Louisiana will stay in Phase 2, but White House memo urges even tighter restrictions


Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci, left, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, attend President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“We are clearly not moving in the direction we were a while back,” LSU Health Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Fred Lopez said.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Governor John Bel Edwards issued a mask mandate and closed bars more than a week ago.

But the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommends even tighter restrictions on some Louisiana businesses.

A memo from the task force sent to Gov. Edwards comes as the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state are spiking again.

“We are clearly not moving in the direction we were a while back,” LSU Health Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Fred Lopez said.

The task force wants gyms closed and gatherings limited to 10 people.

Right now, the gathering limit is 50 people.

It also urges restaurants to cut indoor seating from 50 percent to 25 percent to encourage more outdoor dining.

Dr. Lopez said short of another stay at home order, stricter measures are needed to slow the rate of infection.

“Those kinds of interventions that decrease people being indoors and being closer to one another for prolonged periods of time will make an impact on transmission,” Lopez said.

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant owner Tommy Cvitanovich says efforts to tighten coronavirus restrictions will hurt his business.

“At 25 percent, there isn’t a restaurant in this city that can break even or make money,” Cvitanovich said.

Cvitanovich maintains he’s going to do whatever public health officials tell him to do whether he agrees with it or not.

He said most restaurant owners are already going above and beyond the current guidelines.

Drago’s in Metairie has been closed for the past ten days after one bartender tested positive for COVID.

“We closed our restaurant last week because we had 19 front of the house employees that were quarantined,” Cvitanovich said. “Out of that 19, we had one positive test but 19 total had to be quarantined because of that.”

Last week, Governor Edwards said he would consider new White House guidelines, but is not ready to add new restrictions just yet.

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