NewsCovering Louisiana


Gov. Edwards: State received 150 ventilators, but "next 30 days will be critical"

Federal emergency funds will be available April 24
Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 17:35:18-04

Governor John Bel Edwards delivered a little good news today in the state's reaction to COVID-19.

As of Wednesday April 1, there were 6,424 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, with 273 deaths.

Louisiana has the third-highest per capita testing rate in the country, Edwards said.

"Even when what you know is not pleasant, it's still better to have more knowledge about what's happening than less," Edwards said.

Also today, 150 ventilators were delivered from the federal reserve, Edwards said. We still need many, many more, he said, and it's an issue across the country. About one-third of the people who come to the hospital will need ventilators, and we won't enough for all of them, and some people are going to die because we won't have them, the governor said.

This is exactly why people need to comply with stay-at-home orders, Edwards said, because the slower the virus spreads, the more likely it will be that hospital capacity will be able to handle the people who get sick.

If we don't slow the spread, people will die because there aren't enough ventilators at Louisiana hospitals, he said.

"We can control whether we're going to have fewer deaths," Edwards said. "That's the simple fact of the matter. We need everybody complying with these orders. These next 30 days will be critical."

Edwards also gave some details about unemployment.

The state department handling the unemployment claims have paid $20 million in claims just the first three days of this week, he said. The usual amount is $2.5 million per week.

The number of daily calls has increased from 257 per day to more than 7,750 per day, he said.

"We know that because of this increased call volume, it's taking many people multiple times to get through," Edwards said. "Please be patient."

Edwards said the workers have extended their hours to take claims, and 300 more people have been put on handling claims. Server capacity also has been expanded.

Edwards announced a new loan program - separate from the SBA programs - that will be available to fund loans for Louisiana businesses. The $50 million program offers guarantees for local banks to make loans. For more information on that program, click here.

Edwards said he knows how hard it is for Louisiana people to forego festivals and celebrations.

"I'm asking people to find new ways to enjoy fellowship during this time. There are other ways to stay connected," he said. Do what you can to stay connected. Last night I had my first Zoom experience, I had a call with all of my siblings and my mother, and were able to visit for an hour. It was very special to make the most out of a difficult situation and express support for one another during trying times."

Edwards reiterated the need for people to stay home.

"It's going to be difficult. It's going to get worse before it gets better, but how much worse it gets really depends on what we do. Every single Louisianian, every single American has a role to play. We need to all comply with the mitigation measures in place. We need to minimize contact, and we need to show our love for one another by staying away. It really is that simple," he said.

When asked, Edwards said the emergency funds set aside by the federal government will be available by April 24. There aren't any details yet on exactly what the state can use the money for, he said. Louisiana is slated to get $1.8 billion.

"People need to prepare themselves for the reality that it's going to be a long time before things are back to normal," Edwards said.

It is not known if there will be a season for the virus, and the development of a vaccine also will take time, he said. It's not even known if people who have had the disease and developed antibodies could resume a normal life before others, he said.

"People should go ahead and start coming to terms with the fact that it's going to be a long time before things get back to normal," Edwards said. "I know this is not the news you wanted to hear, but it's the best information we have right now."