NewsCovering Louisiana


Edwards: hospitalizations in New Orleans trending downward

Gov. Edwards
Posted at 7:18 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 13:08:20-04

Today, 581 new cases were reported, for a total of 22,532, said Gov. John Bel Edwards. There also were 53 new deaths reported, for a total of 1,156.

As of Wednesday, April 15, there were 21,951 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, with 1,103 deaths.

Hospitalizations in the New Orleans area is trending down, Edwards said. Because of mitigation measures, the number is about 1,200 fewer than projected, Edwards said.

"We're in a better place today because the people of Louisiana, and the people of (New Orleans) heeded the stay-at-home orders, and it's paying off," Edwards said. "This is really important."

Edwards said the mitigation measures that Louisiana residents are taking are working.

"This is why we're doing it, to achieve these kind of results," the governor said. "We have people in the hospital and in ICU, and we have people dying today, but not in the numbers we would have."

Louisiana's numbers are looking significantly better than they would have without the stay-at-home order, he said.

"Quite frankly, three weeks ago we were doubtful that we would ever get to that line," Edwards said. "It's really paying off for us, and we're in a much better place than we thought was possible."

The governor says the numbers do show that not everybody around the state is complying like they should. And he pleaded with residents to follow the rules. Don't go out more than you have to, don't take everybody to the grocery store with you, maintain the hygiene practices, etc.

Edwards says any steps toward "normal" are going to have to be planned and careful. It will probably be a year or more before life resembles what it looked like before this started, he said.

"There's a significant concern that if we remove all the restrictions at once we'll see a big spike, and I have that concern as well," Edwards said. "But we also have to transition to opening up of our economy."

Edwards said he expects there will be many steps over a long period of time that ensures we re-open the economy in ways that don't create danger for the public.

"Because we're human beings, we're going to make some mistakes, but testing will show us if we've made a mistake, and we can do a course correction," Edwards said.

One of the main segments of the economy which needs to re-open as soon as possible is health care, the governor said. Non-emergency procedures have been stopped, and a continued halt of those procedures could negatively effect patients who might benefit from early detection and early treatment, he said.

Edwards said that Ronnie Anderson, president of Louisiana Farm Bureau and a long-time member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, is in an ICU now on a ventilator, fighting Covid-19. He said Anderson has been in the hospital for 29 days now with the virus.

Edwards also spoke about the new commission he has created to determine the state's next steps. You can read more about it here.

"Life as we know it has been altered by the time being. No part of our economy has been untouched by this," he said. "We need the best possible game plan for the future in order to foster economic recovery, and to safeguard public health."

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, co-chair of that commission, said that there will need to be long-term and short-term plans, and different plans for different segments of the economy.

Edwards said the commission is the mechanism to engage members of those sectors while creating plans that protect public health.

U.S. Rep Steve Scalise, R-La., joined the governor at the presser to give an update on what he's done to assist Louisiana in obtaining supplies and equipment. He said it's good to see an improvement in the numbers.

"That's no reason to let up," he said. "I think people are a lot more aware of what they need to do, and that's means that we're closer to being able to open up the economy more."

He announced that the Paycheck Protection Program had maxed out today. He said he hopes there will be more funding allocated to that program.

"When we talk about re-opening the economy, we're not choosing between safety and economic recovery. We can do both, and we must do both," he said.

Scalise said he's been appointed by the President to be on a national commission working toward re-opening the economy.

He said we know the disease is not going away, because it's expected to re-appear in the fall. The hope is a vaccine will be developed, but we have to learn how to live with the diease until then, Scalise said.

Again Edwards answered questions from the public. One lady asked about June 1, when hurricane season starts.

Edwards said he hopes the order won't still be in effect then, but he said things will be different.

For instance, the shelter plan will have to be different so people can practice social distancing, and there will need to be PPE there.

"We've already planned, and on May 14 we'll do an exercise here with the National Weather Service and FEMA to work through these things together," Edwards said. "You never know what's going to happen, but typically it's August and later when you see the stronger hurricanes."

A man from Lafayette asked about backlogs of tests.

"Over 90 percent of the tests coming in every day are from non-state labs, so it's hard to say we have a complete picture," he said. "Just a couple days ago we had 10,000 tests come in on one day."

Edwards said the number of tests going forward should be more uniform. State officials are still trying to increase testing, he said. All test results are sent to the CDC as well, he said.

The Louisiana Department of Health will update the rest of the numbers at noon.

To see the latest statewide numbers, click here.

At 4:00 pm the Governor will take part in a virtual town hall hosted by our media partners at The Advocate.

The town hall will be live streamed by the governor's office and The Advocate's website and social media platforms.

Louisiana residents can submit questions for the town hall here.