NewsCovering Louisiana


Governor Edwards: Everybody has a role to play

Governor Edwards 3-24.PNG
Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 17:20:31-04

On Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards held a media briefing about Louisiana's response to COVID-19.

Edwards said there were 1,388 cases and 46 deaths as of Tuesday.

"As we anticipated, quite sadly, the number of cases continues to rise more drastically than we would like," he said.

As of Monday, March 23, there were 1,172 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, with 34 deaths.

Edwards said there is a theory about why Louisiana has the fastest rate of spread and the third-highest rate of infection in the nation: The first person to test positive in Louisiana did so 13 days after Mardi Gras, and in New Orleans, he said.

"I happen to believe, with people coming from all over the country and all over the world, that a fair amount of coronavirus was "seeded" in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, if that's the proper word," he said.

The governor again stressed the need to flatten the curve - that is, slow the spread of the virus to give health care systems time to deal with it. In this case, the fear is that too many people will be sick at the same time, and will overwhelm the hospitals we have.

When people get the right care, they can survive the virus. If the health system isn't able to are for everyone, more people will die, he said.

"While we are on this trajectory, we have to be intently focused on our efforts to flatten the curve," he said. "That is the single most important thing. It's why we've done the mitigation measures, why we're asking everyone to do what we've asked."

These include staying home unless absolutely necessary, if you have to go out staying at least six feet away from people you meet, washing your hands with soap and water frequently, covering your cough and seeking care if you're ill.

"Until the curve starts to flatten, I am not going to draw an easy breath," the governor said.

Edwards said the locations for testing are increasing, and that's good. But people who aren't sick have a critical role to play here, he said.

"It's critical, and I've been saying this for some time now, so often that people are tired of me saying it, but I'm calling upon every individual in this state to do their part. It is critical for all of us to do our part to reduce the spread of this particular virus," he said. "Everyone has a role to play. If we can preserve our precious health care resources so they are there to provide care for us when we need hospital care, that is what we need to do."

On that note, Edwards thanked first responders and hospital workers.

"There's a lot of really good work by selfless people that is taking place across Louisiana," he said.

The governor also gave suggestions on how others can help - aside from taking the precautions and staying home - including donating blood and donating money to food banks. He said you also could fill out your census.

In response to a question, Edwards said final decisions haven't been made regarding school. The state Department of Education is working on several different scenarios, he said. They are still working on finding more ways to feed the state's school children, including working with restaurants to try to keep those businesses afloat by using them to feed school children.

"On our best days, 25 percent of our children are challenged with nutrition," the governor said. "These are no tour best days. We need as much help as we can get in this area."

In response to a question, Edwards acknowledged the difficulty workers are having with filing unemployment because of overwhelming response - like busy lines and crashing websites. He said citizens should be patient, but persistent, and keep trying. He said he has waived several requirements for unemployment, and added that this period of unemployment won't be counted as part of a worker's experience.