A new COVID order will take effect tomorrow, maintaining all the current restrictions, Gov. John Bel Edwards said today.
"The new proclamation, which I have already signed, will keep the status quo going forward. All current restrictions, the mask mandate, will remain in place and will stay in place for 21 days," the governor said.
The order extends modified Phase Two guidelines to January 13, 2021. Click here to read the renewed modified Phase Two order. For complete guidance on the new Phase Two, visit the Open Safely portal at opensafely.la.gov.
Gov. Edwards also declared an emergency for the elections in February, March, and April of next year, per a request from Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin.
He made a plea for residents to think long and hard before hosting or attending any holiday events.
"They're wonderful things. They're a lot of fun," he said. "But we have too many people in hospitals, and too many people dying. Please be safe. I know it's been a difficult year, and a lot of people are tired of COVID, restrictions and mitigation measures. But what we're asking you to do is consistent with what public health officials are saying. This has to be done."
Edwards said his extended family will be getting together virtually, and he asked others to do that as well. If you refuse to do that, be "clear-eyed" about the risks you're taking for yourself and your loved ones, he said, and try to take some precautions.
The governor said a deep dive into the state's data yesterday shows "we still have a lot of work to do."
Hospitalizations are up, but there has been a slight decrease in percent positive tests.
"Hopefully, we will see that percent positivity show up with reduced case, and reduced hospitalizations, and when you have reduced hospitalizations you have reduced deaths," Edwards said. "That is what we would like to see."
Even with the positive information, hospitalizations and deaths are up, he said, and the holiday is coming up. If residents insist on traveling and having group events, things will not get better, he said.
Edwards said the mandates in place in Louisiana are those recommended by the White House task force, and were reiterated in his Monday call with White House officials.
Edwards said he hopes that Louisiana businesses can continue to have their employees working remotely through January and well into February, because that will help with social distancing that is needed.
"I do believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is coming to us by vaccines and vaccinations, but it really isn't here, yet," Edwards said. "Because of these elevated numbers we talked about, we are in a perilous place."
Edwards said he's most worried about increased hospitalizations and increased deaths. Covid is now the leading cause of death in the United States, he said, and it's higher than strokes, accidents and other causes in Louisiana.
Many families in Louisiana will have empty chairs at their Christmas tables this year because they've lost someone to COVID, he said.
Officials talked about the new vaccine dashboard on the LDH website, which will keep track of how many vaccines have been administered, etc. You can see the dashboard here: https://ldh.la.gov/coronavirus/
However, even though the vaccine represents the beginning of the end, Louisiana's position today is precarious. All 64 parishes have a very high level of community spread. There is more COVID circulating now than at any other time, and that means anyone who leaves their home and goes out in public must be careful, said Dr. Joseph Kanter, interim assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health.
Kanter said people must be more careful than they ever have been during the pandemic, because there is so much COVID out there. The virus spreads only through human behavior, which means the spread is in our control, he said.
Edwards said Louisiana health officials are working on methods to determine who should get the vaccines first among the general public. That's going to be based on which people have the worst outcomes, including death, when they get the virus, he said.
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