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Edwards: Louisiana gearing up for worsening numbers

Posted at 1:34 PM, Mar 31, 2020

Louisiana is focusing on expanding medical care across the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards said at his daily briefing today.

Baton Rouge General is re-opening its Mid-City campus to get ready for more patients, he said. The hospital will have in-patient beds, ICU beds and an Emergency Room, he said.

Edwards said he's ordered another 1000 beds added to the New Orleans Convention Center, on top of the 1000 beds already being prepared. The first thousand should be ready this weekend, the second thousand will be available later this month.

The beds are designed for patients who have been hospitalized with the virus and are recovering, but aren't ready for discharge. The most fragile patients, and new patients, would be admitted to hospitals. Moving the recovering patients to alternate sites will free up beds in hospitals faster, he said.

These moves will help with the predicted limits of capacity: Edwards said New Orleans will meet hospital capacity by April 7, and run out of ventilators by April 4. The federal government is sending 150 ventilators, but that will only buy a day, he said.

"These numbers we're seeing today just reaffirm my decision to extend the stay-at-home order to at least April 30," Edwards said. "We are not seeing enough compliance. It has got to get better."

As he does every day, Edwards asked citizens to take the guidelines seriously: stay home, practice social distancing, wash your hands, stop gathering in crowds.

"I'm confident we will get through this. It's no going to be soon, and it's no going to be easy, but we are resilient people, we are faithful people, and we will get through this," Edwards said.

In response to questions from the media, the governor said he's sorry he can't be more precise about the exact days we will run out of medical capacity, but that's hard to do with the constantly changing information.

"We want to be as honest and straightforward as we can be about the data we're getting. We need to surge our medical capacity and we need the public to engage in better practices in terms of social distancing, and we need better compliance with the stay-at-home order," he said.

Because some of the results reported today are from tests given a week or more ago, it's hard to be precise about when medical capacity will be exceeded, and also if the curve has begun to flatten, he said.

Edwards said he found the numbers "startling" but he's not sure if it's a surge of cases, or because of the length of time it's taking for tests to be processed. If today's big surge is due to a bunch of test results coming back on the same day, we'll know tomorrow, he said.

As of noon on March 31, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,212 additional cases since Monday, bringing the total to 5,237 positive cases.

So far, 239 people have died. Read more here.