BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — June 10, 2020, UPDATE: Don’t let your guard down, Louisiana.
That was Gov. John Bel Edwards’ message during his June 10 press briefing on COVID-19 mitigation across the state.
Though there hasn’t been a statewide spike in cases, Lake Charles Monroe and Alexandria are regions of concern, he and Dr. Alex Billioux, leader of Louisiana’s public health office, both said.
The State Department of Health and Hospitals is monitoring data in an effort to determine whether community spread is a factor in the increase in cases in those areas.
“The state is doing much, much better than we were a few months ago, but we do have some concerns about those areas,” Edwards said. “Just like the rest of the country, we still have COVID-19 in Louisiana.”
Edwards noted that increased testing is also contributing to higher reports of COVID-19 cases in portions of the state.
Lafayette nonprofit initiative Love Our Community was commended for its work to provide masks and resources on health safety education.
During Wednesday’s briefing, the governor announced a new statewide ”Get Back to Work” survey tool to help gauge an individual’s vulnerability to contracting the virus and ways to prevent it.
JUNE 8, 2020 UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is “heartened” to see that Louisiana has not had a spike in COVID-19 cases since the Memorial Day weekend.
Edwards said that weekend saw more mobility than previously in the quarantine, but he noted that most of that mobility was outdoors and many people still observed social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
Should a spike occur, Edwards said there would have to be an investigation as to what the cause of that spike might be, which could include a variety of factors. Increased testing could lead to a “spike” in cases, but officials would also have to look at where the increased numbers are coming from and whether they are resulting in hospitalizations or not. Until those factors are figured out, Edwards said he couldn’t say what steps the state would take.
He said he was also happy to see results from an LSU study that showed that 62% of respondants said they were wearing face masks in public, which he said was up from 48% in April.
JUNE 5, 2020 UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards said there is one piece of good news despite the tropical system that is bearing down on the Louisiana coast for this weekend – meteorologists have ruled out the idea that Cristobal will evolve into a Category 1 hurricane.
Edwards, who met with emergency officials before today’s press conference, said winds up to 60 mph are possible. While most areas should experience around 4-6 inches of rain, portions of Southeastern Louisiana, on the strong side of the storm, could see as much as 10-15 inches if the storm is to stall at all.
As of now, the storm is expected to clear out of the state relatively quickly.
No evacuations have been called, nor have any emergency shelters been activated. In light of COVID-19, concerns for shelters, Edwards said if the need arises, “we have additional options that we haven’t used in the past, which could include those hotels and motels.”
Edwards said Louisiana has not been authorized for disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits at this time. However, he did urge Louisianans that are not already receiving SNAP benefits to pre-register for D-SNAP benefits. Those who are already registered for SNAP do not need to register for D-SNAP. If you have previously pre-registered prior to today, Edwards said a change in computer systems have canceled those pre-registrations.
Edwards said the state will also be shuttering its COVID-19 testing sites in anticipation of the storm, though he expected to be able to resume testing on Tuesday after the storm moves through.
The governor also asked those who are planning protests in light of the death of George Floyd against police brutality to be cognizant of the weather conditions and also the COVID-19 situation going forward. Edwards expressed pride that the great majority of protests in Louisiana have been peaceful and non-violent.
June 3, 2020, UPDATE: Louisianans now dealing with a few whammies, now with a potential tropical storm moving toward its coastline.
During his Wednesday, June 3, press briefing, Edwards urged residents and businesses to prepare this week.
As of June 3, Tropical Storm Cristobal is expected to make landfall sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning. It’s moving toward the Vermilion Bay area and could bring 8 to 10 inches of rain.
Follow storm preparedness tips at getagameplan.org.
As of Wednesday, the state had seen just more than 10 percent in positive cases in COVID-19 tests, Edwards said. The Department of Health and Hospitals has reported fewer than 100 patients relying on ventilators as on June 3.
The governor encouraged those dealing with stress and/or grief related to COVID-19 to visit conquercovid19.la.
Some good news from the Lt. Governor’s Office, in May, Louisiana’s state parks and museums saw the highest number of visitors in two consecutive weekends since 2008.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser encouraged residents to follow health safety guidelines and take day trips to explore the state.
According to Travel USA, 82 percent of Louisiana travelers are staying close to home, he said.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, Nungesser announced that the state’s welcome centers are reopening at a 10-person capacity.
Edwards is scheduled to hold a Friday, June 5, statewide update at 2:30 p.m.
News 10 will air it live.
June 1, 2020, UPDATE: Gov. John Bel Edwards has officially announced that the state will move into Phase 2 of the reopening effort on Friday, June 5.
While there are still a few areas of the state where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, the overall trend statewide is downward or plateaued. Central Louisiana and the Monroe area of the state are still seeing increasing cases and, in some cases, hospitalizations.
Edwards also announced the state his hit its goal of collecting over 200,000 tests in the month of May, with the final number coming in at 206,858. Of those tests, fewer cases are returning positive, he said.
Phase 2 will allow previously reopened businesses to allow customers in up to 50% occupancy, including:
- Solo and non-contact sports
- Playgrounds, outdoor play centers
- Barbers and Salons
- Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
- Bars and breweries with LDH food permit (bars and breweries without the permit can open to 25% occupancy)
- Casinos and video poker
- Racetracks (not open to spectators)
- Day spas, tattoo shops, massage shops and estheticians
- Swimming pools (controlled recreational swimming)
- Bowling, skating centers
- Event Centers
Social distancing will continue, as will the need for face masks.
Still closed to the public are visitors to nursing homes and hospitals. Arcades and trampoline parks may open under approved plans by the State Fire Marshal, with minors accompanied by parents. Summer camps were allowed to open with restrictions in Phase One, and additional guidance will be issued. Sleep-away camps are not allowed in Phase Two.
The following businesses remain closed: carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, fairs, contact sports, children’s indoor play centers, theme parks, concert and music halls, and other similar businesses. Live entertainment is not permitted inside any building or indoor function.
Phase 2 will be in place until June 26, when another analysis will be completed to see if the state can move to Phase 3. More information will be provided for employers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office at opensafely.la.gov.
Watch the full June 1 press briefing below:
ORIGINAL POST: BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s governor was expected to announce Monday whether restrictions on churches and businesses will be further eased as the state fights the spread of the new coronavirus.
If Gov. John Bel Edwards gives the OK, the latest lifting of restrictions would start Friday.
Being considered are guidelines that would allow bars, spas and tattoo parlors to newly open, but with heavy restrictions. Churches, restaurants, hair salons and other businesses that have reopened at 25% capacity since mid-May would be allowed to move to 50% of their occupancy rate. Live music venues would remain closed.
The lifting of restrictions likely won’t apply in one jurisdiction: New Orleans officials made clear last week that they’d like to see more data before further opening the city. Like the state, New Orleans now allows dining inside restaurants, hair and nail salons and church services, with 25% limits on capacity.
One concern voiced by the New Orleans health director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, was the likelihood that many New Orleans area residents headed for Gulf Coast beaches during the Memorial Day weekend. She cited reports of large gatherings along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
City officials want more time to collect and analyze data to determine the effect of New Orleans residents’ visits to such Memorial Day events before deciding whether to further loosen restrictions.
Edwards, a Democratic governor, has been under pressure from Republican officials since early May, when he extended his first, strict stay-at-home emergency order. That order, issued when the state was a hot spot for COVID-19, was lifted May 15.
But GOP pressure continued. Attorney General Jeff Landry, who early in the coronavirus crisis was supportive of Edwards’ efforts, joined Republican state lawmakers in sending the governor a letter Sunday urging him to “reopen our state and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of Louisiana’s hardworking people.”
They asked that all of Louisiana employers fall under the same regulations.
“The piecemeal method picks winners and losers, crippling small businesses and forcing too many into bankruptcy or closure.”
Louisiana has had nearly 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as of Sunday. The death toll was approaching 2,700. More than 28,000 have recovered. Hospitalizations, a key factor in whether restrictions are loosened, have dropped well below 700. They had peaked at more than 2,100 in early April.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.
McGill reported from New Orleans.