Gov. John Bel Edwards gave an update on the state's response to COVID-19 today at 4 p.m.
Louisiana is now number one in the nation for per-capita infection, he said.
"That sound be an alarm bell for everyone to understand just how serious this pandemic is in Louisiana," Edwards said.
Edwards said more than 540,000 tests have been done this month, which is good. He said tests don't create cases, they just tell you who is contagious so that people can isolate and stop transmission of the virus to others. Increased testing across the nation is having an impact on the time it takes to get results back, which is something the state and federal governments are working for.
He said no one should be getting repeat tests to go back to work. You should stay home for 10 days after a positive test, symptomatic or not, he said. If you aren't sure, go to https://www.doineedacovid19test.com/
State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said his agency has been working with Alcohol Control and health officials to ensure compliance among businesses. But, he said, the vast majority of businesses are working hard to open safely, and following the rules and even going beyond the requirements.
"It's just not fair for the good businesses out there doing their best to help the state, help their customers and help this nation to recover, for these bad actors to be out there," Browning.
This past weekend four businesses were cited: one was serving alcohol when they shouldn't have, and three others weren't even supposed to be open, he said. Read our story about that here.
"These bars being closed is important for Louisiana to get back to where we were," Browning said.
Browning said regulations and enforcement work better when people voluntarily comply. He said he finds better compliance now with these restrictions than he sees sometimes with the fire code. He said people are educated about why the mitigation measures are necessary, and that helps. But there's a minority of people who won't do what's needed.
"When we have people who won't comply, there are consequences," he said.
Browning estimated his people have made more than 5,000 visits to businesses since Phase II began. They're using a matrix that penalizes businesses after three mistakes; there are about 14 businesses in the state on their second strike, he said.
Some are so egregious in their violations that they get a citation the first time, he said.
Browning said the majority of violations are related to masks and social distancing, but that is improving. He said his people are seeing more and more people wearing masks in public places.
"It's not easy to put restrictions on any business, but when you have a public health emergency that is unprecedented in its scale, you have to take steps," Edwards added. "These are tough restrictions, and I'm aware of that, and I apologize for that, but they are absolutely necessary."
The governor reported on the numbers.
"If there's any good news... over the past six days, hospitalizations have been flat, and that's the first time that has happened in a long time," he said. "Hopefully that is a trend."
We're now about two weeks out from the last time new mitigation measures were added, and Edwards said he hopes that the numbers start to reflect that soon.
"There's usually a lag time from when behavior changes, and when you see an impact on the numbers," Edwards said.
Edwards gave some information from today's call with federal COVID-19 task force officials.
The White House task force says that mitigation measures are having an impact; these include actions that close bars, limit social gatherings, limit indoor dining in restaurants, the governor said. The most important is a universal mask mandate, he said.
"Our next step will be driven by the numbers," he said in response to a media question. "We will be driven by the data, we will be driven by the science."
Here's the video:
As of July 28, the number of coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana increased by 1,121 and the number of deaths had increased by 26, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
The total number of cases in the state is now at 111,038 and 3,700 deaths as of Tuesday.
The collection dates for most of these cases fall between July 20, 2020 and July 27, 2020, according to LDH.
LDH is reporting that 61,456 coronavirus patients are "presumed recovered" (updated weekly, last updated 7/19/20).
The LDH reports that 1,583 people are hospitalized (down 17 from Monday). Of those, 214 required ventilators (up 6 from Monday).