BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference on Thursday regarding the state's ongoing Hurricane Laura recovery and COVID-19 response.
Edwards said the state is monitoring two areas that could develop into tropical storms over the Carribean Sea over the next five days.
The governor said that residents should still be weather aware and have a plan in place even as hurricane season nears its end.
He said that the state is continuing its recovery efforts after Hurricane Laura. To day, FEMA has put nearly $148 million into the hands of storm survivors including $101 million for housing assistance. In addition to that, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $186 million in low interest loans to help hurricane survivors to recover.
The deadline to register for FEMA aid is Oct. 27. Residents can register by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or calling 1-800-621-3362.
The Blue Roof Program from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has installed 6,241 temporary blue roofs for those impacted by Laura. The governor said that the application process ended Wednesday, but the corps will continue to put up roofs for those who were approved.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has extended the period for disaster unemployment assistance, or DUA, through Oct. 30. The program is for eligible survivors of Hurricane Laura who either lost their job or had their employment interrupted due to the storm. They can register at www.LAWorks.net.
The Department of Child and Family Services will again issue SNAP benefits early starting Thursday for current recipients. There will also be an extension of the hot foods waiver that will allow SNAP and DSNAP recipients to use their benefits to purchase hot or prepared foods from retailers in the state that already accept EBT cards. The waiver will last through Oct. 31.
As of Thursday, there are still 8,683 individuals in Louisiana and an additional 3,584 being sheltered in Texas at non-congregant shelter hotels.
Edwards said that hotel consolidation efforts are underway in both states working with the American Red Cross. He said that people are being moved home as the state is able to do so while coordinating with local authorities in the parishes where those individuals evacuated from.
The governor said that power is still out in some areas, mainly in Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes. He said that there are still about 6,000 customers still without electricity.
Edwards said that the state is reporting 608 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday from 16,141 tests. He said that there were a total of 444,390 tests in September, which is well over twice what their minimum goal.
The governor said that testing was reduced and interrupted across the state for several weeks after Laura hit. He said that the state is trying to reinstate surge testing and expects rapid tests coming from the federal government soon.
The state is also reporting 8 new deaths on Thursday with a total of 5,329 deaths since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations are also trending down as 534 hospitalizations were reported across the state on Thursday.
Edwards said the reason there is a lid on cases, decreasing hospitalizations and the low number of deaths is all due to the mitigation measures and restrictions in place against the spread of COVID-19.
A live stream can be viewed below:
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