Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisianians need to get ready to continue the mitigation measures - like masks, social distancing, etc. - for a long time.
"There will be a new normal for some time, not just for Louisiana, not just for the United States, but for the world," Edwards said.
Although there are issues for babies and some people with breathing issues, "everybody else really needs to be wearing masks when in public and when in contact with other people," the governor said. "I say this because everybody needs to start preparing. Make sure you and everyone in your family has one. You can buy them, you can make them. Unless you’re a healthcare worker, you don’t need to purchase an N95. We’re talking about facial coverings, which are relatively easy to make."
Several counties in Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston counties, have already issued orders making masks mandatory.
Edwards said society as we know it will not be back to normal until there is a vaccine, and that will be a while, he said.
"Think of this as being polite, kind, courteous. Because when you wear a mask, you protect others, and when they wear a mask, they protect you. This is why I’m calling on Louisiana to mask up," he said.
As for when things do open up a little, Edwards said officials are working on a plan for what Phase I will look like.
"We will be announcing a plan in the coming days to discuss our next steps forward, but nobody should think we’re in the clear today because we’re not. We’re not even close," Edwards said. "The plan we have will remain in place at least until April 30 when it is scheduled to terminate."
Edwards said the mitigation measures are not going to end when the stay-at-home order ends. Those measures will continue until a vaccine is available, he said.
"When we move forward, it will be with a plan that is consistent with the recommendations and guidelines that came from the White House Coronavirus Task Force," Edwards said. "We’re still working on our plan, and when we can implement it safely, and what it will entail."
One of the main pillars of recovery and re-opening will be testing, Edwards said, and officials are still working to increase the tests available. He also encouraged anyone with symptoms get tested.
When asked about managing expectations, Edwards said we don't even have an effective therapeutic treatment for the virus, let alone a vaccine. So even when things open up, we still will be limited in many ways in order to protect public health.
"If we want to have success with re-opening our economy, you can't have that if you have a spike of cases," he said. "You're not going to be able to re-open the economy if people are getting sick and dying because they can't into an intensive care unit."
Edwards said once things start to open, testing will be important to monitor how things are going, and he does believe that thinks might be different in each region because circumstances in certain areas are different. Contact tracing also will be important to ensure that, once things do start opening up, they can remain open.
The flu will be an issue this fall, when people start to get sick with the flu, the governor said. However, a little good news is that mitigation measures also protect from the flu. The bad news would be a bad flu season, because people who need hospital care for the flu need the same resources that people with COVID need.
On April 22 the Louisiana Department of Health reported 25,258 confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the state. This is 404 more cases than were reported yesterday.
A total of 1,473 people have died of the disease in Louisiana. This is 68 more deaths than were reported yesterday. As of April 22, the LDH reports 59 probable COVID-19 deaths.
LDH reported COVID-19 patients in hospitals are at 1,747, which is 51 fewer hospitalizations than yesterday.
LDH reported there 287 of patients are on ventilators, which is 10 fewer patients than were reported yesterday.
To read more from Tuesday's press conference: Edwards: No details on start of re-opening yet
As of Tuesday, April 21, there were 24,854 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, with 1,405 deaths.
The Louisiana Department of Health updates their numbers each day at noon.
To see the latest from LDH, click here.
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