BATON ROUGE, La. — On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards held a media briefing on Louisiana's response to COVID-19.
Edwards says that Thursday's numbers continue a disturbing trend in the state.
Test positivity is up 7.5 percent statewide. Edwards says that it may sound like a small increase from around 5 percent but he says Louisiana is now within it's third surge. This surge was confirmed through the White House task force.
It is believed that the surge took hold around Halloween when residents and businesses may have been more relaxed. The White House report puts Louisiana 172 cases per 100,0000 which is below the national average of 294 new cases per 100,000.
The state was at 92 cases per 100,000 previously.
"We had been in the plateau for at least 3 months," Edwards said. "We came up to Halloween and many people may have let down their guard."
Edwards also mentioned that the petition put forward by legislators might have also help fuel the case growth in the state.
He stated that he believes that the petition, which sought to end Edward's restrictions may have confused many residents who believed the state's coronavirus rules were no longer in effect.
Again the governor asked residents to continue mitigation measures including washing hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask.
Going into next week with the Thanksgiving holidays, Edwards says it would be a mistake to go about the holiday as if there is no pandemic.
The governor spoke with several hospital CEOs across the state who are now concerned with staffing needed to deal with a third surge of the virus.
"The reason staffing is a problem, the disease is being transmitted to doctors, therapists, etc.," Edwards explained. He also stated it is unlikely that other states would be able to send in staff to help if Louisiana sees a drastic loss of medical staff.
Dr. Christopher Thomas, a critical care physician in Baton Rouge, highlighted the work being done in the area to treat COVID-19.
Being a COVID-19 patient himself, he says that he has seen medical workers struggle but also succeed in taking care of critically ill patients.
"We are tired," he said. "But, we are prepared to do it again for our citizens."
He pleaded that residents take the pandemic seriously.
"If the number of patients overwhelms our current staff, our care will be limited," Thomas said. "Don't force us to make that decision."
"You are now healthcare providers," Thomas said.
He asked residents to recognize that the pandemic and the disease of COVID-19 is real.
"You have to think about what you would do for them [family] to keep them from getting sick," said Thomas.
Social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask was the answer that Thomas provided.
"The science is clear: wear a mask to slow the spread," he said.
Officials ask that everyone do what they can now to stop or slow a third surge.
LDH says that risk of transmission is higher when gatherings are larger, indoors, and when eating and drinking.
Work on a vaccine continues and officials say it is still unknown when a vaccine would be available for dissemination.
The governor said that it is now possible that the state could start administering a COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers before end of the year.
He said the second group that would be receiving it would be those in nursing homes, assisted living centers and those who live in congregant settings.
Edwards said that he is confident that the vaccine will be safe and effective once it receives an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
Edwards closed with urging residents to make a change as we near Thanksgiving.
"If we will do what is required, what we know works," Edwards said. "There is every reason to believe that next year will have greater normalcy and be able to gather together."
On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health was reporting 2,073 additional coronavirus cases and 15 new deaths in the state.
According to LDH, 1,755 of those cases are confirmed and 318 are probable.
The number of total cases in the state is now at 211,966. The number of deaths is now at 6,199.
LDH says that 185,960 patients are presumed to have recovered from the virus so far.
A number that has continued to rise over the last week has been the state's hospitalization rate. On Wednesday, that number had risen by 43 to 929.
To see the latest information from LDH regarding COVID-19 in the state, click here.
You can watch Thursday's full briefing below:
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