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Gov. Edwards holds press conference on COVID-19 response in Louisiana

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Posted at 12:18 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 15:26:55-04

Governor John Bel Edwards shared an update the on the state's response to COVID-19

Edwards says that the state has two weeks to stop and minimize the spread of COVID-19 and urges residents do what they are asked to do to help flatten the curve.

"We can not exceed our demand on our hospitals all at the same time," Edwards said.

He says that the time of 15 days to get a handle on the spread of the virus which has been echoed by other officials including the White House.

Edwards gave an update on the number of cases in the State, stating that a sixth death has been reported with 2 new cases in Baton Rouge. A 98-year-old and 92-year-old were added to the list of deaths. Both at Lambeth House in New Orleans.

4 total deaths have been confirmed from Lambeth House in New Orleans. This is the only cluster that the state is investigating at a total of 13 confirmed cases in one place.

Edwards says that until testing is increased they will not be able to identify everyone who may have the virus. New commercial testing is due out by Friday in Jefferson Parish

With that new testing and increase, the number of cases is expected to jump into the thousands in the coming days.

"We need these cases to plateau and start declining," Edwards said. "These cases represent our fellow brothers and sisters."

Edwards stated that the virus can be with a person for 14 days before symptoms are seen. Edwards says that everyone should be out behaving like they have coronavirus and adhear to restrictions that are put in place to protect the public.

Everyone at risk to COVID-19 should be tested but those who are not at risk or not showing symptoms should not be tested. Questions can be answered at 211 for those without primary care physicians.

These recommendations we are implementing all come from the CDC.

Small business assistance has been requested for all 64 parishes in the state for those affected by the coronavirus.

If employment has been affected, those people affected should file an unemployment claim. They can do so here.

For information about SNAP text GETSNAP to 898211

The state also has a confidential help line for those needing support for mental health 1866-310-7977. Telephone capacity has been expanded.

Online systems have received max volume including unemployment claims. The Governor says that they are working to accommodate a large volume of traffic.

Edwards also spoke about the proclamation that was put out for the state saying that eviction and foreclosure proceedings will not be ongoing. Read more here.

The obligation to pay mortgages and rent have not been suspended. People should make their payments as normal.

LA Wallet, the state's digital license will be free to residents during this time, Edwards announced.

Edwards reminded resident to continue social distancing and staying home when sick. Residents should wash their hands, disinfect surfaces and stop unnecessary travel.

Attorney General Jeff Landry said that the Governor is working for the health and safety of the public.

"We want our friends and family to survive," he said of the measure the state has put in place. "I am sure Louisiana will conquer this epidemic."

Landry reiterated that Governor Edwards has the power to limit gatherings and restaurant options.

"The Governor, working with the Public Health Officer and the Secretary of the Department of Health, has a broad scope of authority in a public health crisis to protect the public. He could, ultimately, take more drastic measures. He has not done so yet. To date, he has acted with restraint and consideration for individual liberty interests. I appreciate that, as I feel strongly about individual liberties – Constitutional liberties," he stated.

Edwards added later in the press conference that law enforcement are charged with disbanding larger crowds or event gathers that have been mandate to cease.

If you have symptoms, seek out medical attention to keep the virus under control.

Landry says that they are looking into 51 cases of price gouging. If it is seen, call your local law enforcement. He asks those reportig to take the name and address of the merchant, the price and receipt of the item or service, and their names, addresses, and phone numbers so they may be reached if further information is needed. He stated that residents can call their hot line if you need assistance with scams or price gouging.

"Scam artists using online tools, the telephone, or even the mail will try to trick you into spending your money. If you see something that concerns you, call our hotline at 800-351-4889," Landry said.

Coach Ed Orgeron was at the press conference urging residents to continue listening to state officials and follow directions and what is being asked.

"Have faith and don't give into fear." Orgeron said.

Governor Edwards said that the situation will get worse before it gets better but he encourages residents to say a prayer and lean on faith to get them through this.