EDWARDS: Louisiana faces one of worst COVID-19 days since first surge of the virus and trajectory doesn’t look good


BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — As Louisiana sees one of the worst days for new cases and for positivity rates of COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is on the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s radar.

Edwards said today’s stats released by the Louisiana Department of Health represent some of the largest gains in cases since the first surge of the virus in April and May. Specifically, East Baton Rouge Parish is going to ramp up testing as it is seeing such a large spike that Mayor Sharon Broome has mandated mask wearing for East Baton Rouge citizens. The federal government and the Louisiana National Guard will try to add 5,000 more tests daily in East Baton Rouge starting on Tuesday, said Broome.

Edwards did lend his support to Broome’s mask mandate, as well as similar mandates made in Jefferson and Orleans parishes. Edwards said US Vice-President Mike Pence also expressed his support for those mandates in a recent teleconference call.

Edwards said he is not adding more restrictions to the current Phase 2 gating criteria at this time, but he said the state is going to ramp up compliance among local businesses so that the state does not have to fall back to earlier phases and lockdowns. That said, the state added over 2,000 new cases today – the highest increase since April. Hospitalizations hover near 800, the highest since May. Of those cases, 98% of them were from community spread and not congregant settings from areas like nursing homes. While around 900 of those cases represent a backlog being worked through, Edwards said the cases from that backlog only date back to June 16.

The state’s positivity rate from testing is now averaging around 9.7% statewide, dangerously near the 10% threshold the World Health Organization has put for communities to safely

“I will tell you that over the second half of June, we’ve lost all of the progress we’ve made over the month,” said Edwards. He urged Louisiana residents not to support businesses that do not follow the safety and social distancing guidelines and not to be part of large crowds.

“There is no safe large crowd, period,” he said.

The governor said that the current surge isn’t because the state entered Phase 2 nearly as much as it’s because residents are not wearing masks, washing hands and keeping social distancing.

By far, the largest gains in COVID cases are coming from young people, ages 18-29, and even more specifically from ages 18-25. While younger people can be at less of a risk from severe complications from the virus, those younger people are also less likely to know about any comorbidity factors like diabetes and hypertension.

ORIGINAL POST: On Wednesday, the state Department of Health and Hospitals reported 2083 new cases since Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The spike in cases is being attributed to community spread. Nearly half the cases were found in individuals between ages 18 and 29, LDH reported.

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