NewsCovering Louisiana


Edwards: COVID-19 cases up to 136, 3rd death reported

Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 16, 2020

Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to speak Monday afternoon on the state's update to the coronavirus.

Edwards says that there are now 136 cases , 22 new cases since Monday mornings update.

A third death has now been reported. That death was recorded at Lambeth House.

One case also is now confirmed in Ascension Parish first in the capital region.

Edwards said aggressive measures are needed to flatten the curve. Louisiana has one of the highest per-capita rates of infection, meaning we're at greater risk of having our health care system overwhelmed, he said.

"We cannot run the risk of overwhelming our capacity to meet the need for critical medical services," the governor said. "That's what you're seeing in other parts of the world, where they didn't take aggressive mitigation measures early enough."

If there's no case in your area yet, that doesn't mean you're safe, he said.

"We now have positive cases across the state and no one should have a false sense of security as they look at the cases," he said. "The best we can hope for is a slow-down of transmission, not a stop to it. Just because your community has no cases doesn't mean no one has been tested. It's likely you will have a case in your area. We know there is substantial community spread in Louisiana."

One drive-thru testing location is open in Baton Rouge, and two will be opened in Orleans Parish and one in Jefferson Parish. None of these sites is for the general public, he said.

The three in the New Orleans area are for health care workers, first responders, people over 65 and chronically ill people who have symptoms, he said. The one in Baton Rouge is only for people who have an order for a test from their doctor.

"The general public should not be going there to try to get a test," he said. "If you have signs or symptoms of flu or the virus, you must call your medical provider for an order. Only those people will get a test."

If you don't have a medical provider, call 211 for help, he said. Officials say the current test is not appropriate for people who don't have symptoms. If you don't have symptoms, the test would not be positive - even if you are, in fact, infected with the virus.

"There is no reason for anyone who is not symptomatic to be tested," Edwards said. He noted that he has not been tested because he has no symptoms.

The National Guard has been called in to provide security at the testing sites, he added.

One reporter asked why the measures are so much more aggressive now.

"It is obviously worse today than it was last week," the governor responded. "We at the state level are heavily dependent upon and relying upon the CDC. We know they have more expertise. As their guidance changes, my actions change. What you see me put in place is a direct reflection of what the CDC is saying we need to put in place. The CDC is making these recommendations for the entire country, but we know we're one of the hotspots."

Edwards said he knows people are saying we aren't going to be where Italy is.

"There is no basis upon which we can know that with any certainty. If we don' want to be Italy... we better do things differently, do things better, take action earlier. Those are the mitigation measures we're talking about," he said.

The Governor also asked people to stop hoarding supplies. He said he's spoken with the President who has assured him that the grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open.

"When you go to the store, buy for the week. Not for the month or longer," Edwards said. "If you keep your normal shopping habits you will be fine. You don't need to hoard."

A live feed will be viewable below:

At the same time, Lafayette Mayor President Josh Guillory will be holding a press conference on the parish updates. We will have that information once the press conference begins.