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Gov. Edwards: Phase II restrictions to continue for another 21 days

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Posted at 1:26 PM, Aug 04, 2020

The current restrictions in Louisiana will continue for another 21 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a briefing on the status of the state's response to COVID-19 today.

We are livestreaming the presser on KATC.com and the KATC Facebook page and below.

"Over the past several days, we have been combing through the data to determine where we are and where we go from here," Edwards said. "There is a bit of good news. Over the past several days, we are beginning to move in the right direction, and it gives me hope. But it's too early to say if we have changed the trajectory in a way that will be sustained. We will never do that absent people doing what they are supposed to be doing."

Three weeks and a day ago, Edwards set a mask mandate, closed bars and reduced gathering sizes, as was recommended by the White House Task Force.

"Over the last 10 days or so, we're beginning to see the impact," Edwards said. "While numbers are improved, improvements have been relatively modest, but we are encouraged."

The number of people showing up at ERs with symptoms is coming down. The number of cases reported are coming down. For the state as a whole, hospitalizations are down. Test positivity is declining, but the caveat is that the state's rate exceeds 10 percent, Edwards said.

"So, we need for these modest improvements to continue, and hopefully become more pronounced as we move forward, so we can move beyond where we are with the current restrictions," Edwards said.

The improvements in the data show that the mask mandate, the closure of bars and the restriction on gatherings are working, Edwards said. He added that the White House Task Force agrees with the continuation of the restrictions.

Dr. Alex Billioux, Assistant Secretary of Health for the. Louisiana Department of Health's Office of Public Health, presented some charts showing long-term trends in the state's data.

"We're starting to see early signs of plateauing and flattening out," Billioux said.

There's a clear correlation between those signs and the two-week mark after the new mandates, including the mask mandate, he said. The White House Task Force says that it takes about two weeks for numbers to start reflecting improvement after mandates are added, Edwards said.

The mandates are working, and citizens need to continue to comply so that more restrictions can be lifted, he said.

"Wear a mask when you are out in public, stay six feet away from people, and avoid places that is too crowded, or is not following these restrictions," Billioux said.

Here are some charts; the first from June, the second from August - and the improvements are reflected here, Billioux said. You can see the entire presentation by scrolling down.

Louisiana's efforts at contact tracing is not successful as it could be, he added. In about a third of the cases, the labs aren't providing sufficient information for the state to contact the person who tested positive, he said.

In about 70 percent of cases, people are claiming that they have no contacts to report. Contact tracing saves lives by warning people they've been exposed, and also by providing them with services or support they might need, Billioux said.

"It's not asking too much, to wear a mask to protect others. It's not too much," Edwards said.

In addition to masks and social distancing, there are other ways people can help.

First, if you're willing to participate in a clinical trial you can visit this government website to find a list of trials in your area: https://clinicaltrials.gov/

Also, you can give blood to hospitals, he said. Hospitals particularly need donations from people who have had COVID, but hospitals also need blood from people who haven't had it, he said.

Everyone also can pray, he said, for health care workers, for patients, for families affected by the disease, and for those who have died.

In response to a media question, the governor addressed a Livingston Parish restaurant that has defied the orders. He described that business' actions as "reckless" and promised that more action will be taken. He also reminded all businesses that the liability shield created by the legislature does not extend to businesses that won't follow CDC guidelines. That means if someone gets sick there, they can sue the business in court.

Edwards said the data in Louisiana, and from the White House Task Force, are showing that these guidelines and mandates are working.

"Fewer people will get this virus, fewer people will go to a hospital, and fewer people will die," he said.

Edwards said he understands why business owners are upset.

"These are not decisions that were made lightly, but at the same time you've got to strike the right balance and make sure you are promoting the health and welfare of the people of the state of Louisiana," Edwards said.

Edwards resisted media members' attempts to push him into a ruling on football.

"I can't know it until I know it," he said. "We will have to get closer to see what the data says to see if it is safe."

As of August 3, the number of coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana increased by 1,099 and the number of deaths had increased by 17, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The total number of cases in the state is now at 120,846 and 3,910 deaths as of Monday.

LDH says that the collection dates for most of Monday's cases fall between July 27, 2020 and August 3, 2020.

Eighty-six percent of the cases reported to the state Monday are community spread and 27 percent of the cases reported are of individuals aged 29 and under.

LDH is reporting that 74,246 coronavirus patients are "presumed recovered" (updated weekly, last updated 7/27/20).

The LDH reports that 1,496 people are hospitalized (down 38 from Sunday). Of those, 230 required ventilators (up 9 from Sunday).

Here's the presentation:

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