NewsCovering Louisiana


Edwards: Slow but steady progress since mask mandate

Posted at 1:13 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 16:40:56-04

Gov. John Bel Edwards reports slow but steady progress in the state's response to COVID-19 today at a press conference.

"We're still in a difficult place, but our trends have been positive over the past two weeks," he said. "The progress hasn't been dramatic but it has been steady. That progress is due to more people adhering to the mitigation measures."

The number of people hospitalized is down 262 from the last week of July, which was the high point in the second surge.

"That's progress over the past two weeks," Edwards said. "That drop began 16 days after the mask mandate and the closure of bars."

There is some good news among hospitals, too. The number of hospitals with no ICU bed availability is down, but still too high. There are also a smaller number of hospitals reporting they have no med surge beds, too, he said.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of doctors and nurses who have been infected, which limits hospitals' ability to offer treatment, he added.

Lots of testing has had a positive impact, he said, because finding infected people earlier is much more effective, he said.

On the topic of school, Edwards said he's not ready to say that school has started too early. There are many reasons children need to be in the school house, including nutrition, suspected abuse and neglect, and health support, he said. If schools are following all the regulations about social distancing, masks and hygiene he said he feels it is premature to say that it's too early.

But, Edwards said, health officials are keeping a sharp eye on the schools that are open, and cases reported in those school communities, he said.

Edwards also spoke about the President's executive order that calls for $400 weekly unemployment benefits to be paid out of FEMA disaster funds. The plan requires a state match of 25 percent, and the state could use its current unemployment benefit as a match, but that would drop the additional benefit to only $300.

Edwards said it's not clear if everyone who qualified for the $600 benefit that ended in July would be eligible for the new benefit, and said that state officials are in contact with federal labor officials today to try to get some more details on it.

There's also a question of how much of that FEMA money can be spent on unemployment, because we are in hurricane season, Edwards said. There is a cap on how much money can be taken out of the FEMA disaster account, he said.

As it stands, the FEMA money available would only last about five weeks, he said. That means Congress needs to get the new relief package passed, Edwards said.

"Nobody believes the executive actions are a realistic and complete replacement for the legislation that Congress needs to pass," he said.

That includes the president, he added.

"We need Congress to sit down and work out a bipartisan compromise," he said. "It's critically important."

The House passed a package back in June but the Senate so far has been unable to agree. The movement also has been slowed by two vacation periods the Senate has enjoyed since June.

Edwards said the representatives need to sit down and figure out how they can accomplish "the people's work."

The fourth Louisiana child died of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome this week, and Dr. Alex Billioux, an internist who is Assistant Secretary of Health for the Louisiana Department of Health's Office of Public Health, talked about the syndrome.

It's an inflammatory syndrome, and the most common symptoms early-on are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, followed by respiratory symptoms, rashes and eye irritation, he said. It's a "rare, but pretty significant abnormality," he said.

About 570 children nationwide have been diagnosed with the syndrome; in Louisiana there have been 44 children diagnosed with it, ranging in age from 2 to 21. Of the four children who died, only two had underlying health conditions, he said.

More than 11,000 children across Louisiana have been diagnosed with COVID-19, he added. The state has asked health care providers to report any cases of MIS-C so that officials can keep track of all symptoms.

Yesterday there was a smaller number of cases reported, and part of that was related to the timing of lab reporting - the labs were reporting cases of a time period less than 24 hours, Billioux said. The lab numbers were pulled in late on Sunday, which meant that early Monday reports weren't 24 hours later, he said.

Here's the full video:

As of August 11, the number of coronavirus cases reported in Louisiana increased by 1,164 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 133,125 and 4,195 deaths as of Tuesday.

LDH is reporting that 89,083 coronavirus patients are "presumed recovered" (updated weekly, last updated 8/03/20).

The LDH reports that 1,335 people are hospitalized (down 47 from Monday). Of those, 214 required ventilators (down 1 from Monday).