Governor John Bel Edwards said again today that data show the curve may be starting to flatten - but promised residents if they don't keep up mitigation measures the numbers will go right back up.
"We are seeing early signs that the curve is starting to flatten. What this means is, we have to continue to do the things that have caused the slowing of the spread, and that's the mitigation measures, the stay-at-home order," Edwards said. "You want to see our numbers spike, you stop those mitigation measures, and I promise you they will be right back up there."
Edwards said he feels that the state's ventilator numbers are better than officials had hoped, and that's due to the work of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other health care workers who are caring for our COVID-19 patients.
The state has received more than 500 ventilators so far, and needs probably another 1,000 to meet the projected needs. Louisiana hospitals are using non-invasive methods earlier and other care strategies to try to keep patients off ventilators as long as possible, and then get them off ventilators as quickly as possible.
Edwards said many people in Louisiana still are not complying with the mitigation orders: washing your hands, not touching your face, staying at home except for essential trips, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.
"Now is the time to double down. This is going to be a difficult week, and next week will be difficult," Edwards said. "Don't make an essential trip every day. We still cannot say with absolute confidence that the curve is flattening, but we're still seeing evidence that we are moving in that direction.
"We appreciate those complying, but we know that there are people who are quite frankly not doing as well as they should. This is a statewide problem," Edwards said.
One of the bright spots, Edwards said, is that Louisiana has ramped up testing and is now number one in the nation on per-capita testing.
Another bright spot is more than 400,000 masks that were donated by Apple and arrived last night, and PPE donations are being distributed to every parish in the state.
"We're grateful for all the support we're receiving," he said.
Edwards devoted part of the presser to answering questions from citizens. If you have questions you want asked, submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and he will try to respond to as many as he can during his pressers or on social media.
One citizen wanted to know why asymptomatic people can't be tested, since people can still be carriers without symptoms.
Edwards said he confirmed with health officials that the tests aren't designed to detect the virus in asymptomatic people - meaning someone who is a carrier could get a negative test and get a false sense of security.
He said everyone should behave as if they believe they have it, and as if the person next to them has it.
Another citizen asked for advice for small business owners who live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford to pay employees for two weeks without generating revenue.
Edwards encouraged all small businesses to apply for the paycheck protection program and do it today.
"It's imperative you do this now," he said. A fifth of the money already has been allocated, he said.
There's also the Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guarantee Program, offering up to $100,000 in loans for small businesses with no payments for 180 days and very low interest rates, he said. Apply at opportunitylouisiana.com/covid19.
As of noon on Tuesday, there were 16,284 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, with 582 deaths.
On Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Health added a breakdown of deaths by race and underlying conditions by percentage to their website. Edwards noted in Monday's briefing that the data showed that more than 70 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in the state were of African Americans.
Today, the governor said the role that health disparities play in that can't be addressed with any precision, but they know it does play a role. It's also true that if you look at the hot spots and the first cases, those are in areas with a higher percentage of African-American citizens, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport.
"What we know is, we want our people to be healthier," he said. "That's why we expanded Medicaid. But what we need to know right now is, how can we make this better."
In response to a question about unemployment and SNAP, he said the state has increased capacity to take calls and online applications. Many requirements, including weekly qualification and proof of job searches, have been waives to speed up the process, he said.
On the pandemic unemployment assistance for 1099 workers and self-employed people. The money hasn't been sent to Louisiana, but guidance has. Edwards said he hopes it will be soon.
To see the latest statewide numbers and breakdowns, click here.