Submitted by Cyndi Sellers
“This is not the message I’d hoped to deliver,” said Gov. John Bell Edwards in his press conference on Tuesday, Apr. 28. Many had hoped he would announce an end, or at least a relaxing, of the stay-at- home order that was set to expire on Apr. 30. Instead he announced the measures would stay in place, with some adjustments, until May 15.
In explaining his decision, Gov. Edwards said that while reported cases have slowed, the level does not meet the requirements of White House guidelines for moving to Phase I of re-opening the country. He praised the efforts of Louisianans in staying at home and restricting activities that might spread the coronavirus, saying, “People took restrictions seriously. Actions taken by people across the state have literally saved many, many lives.”
While some regions of the state, like Southwest Louisiana, have seen their numbers go down, others, such as neighboring Acadiana, are still going up. For this reason, the governor, with advice from scientists and medical professionals, decided not to allow Phase I to proceed on a parish-by-parish basis. To do so could result in creating new “hot spots,” he said.
Gov. Edwards said he spoke with Vice-president Pence prior to the announcement and the Vice-president supported the decision and was “not surprised.” Louisiana currently has the 6th highest case load per capita in the nation. That means the “disease burden” is higher in Louisiana than in all but five other states, Edwards said.
While some neighboring states are beginning to relax restrictions, none of the top ten case-per-capita states have moved to Phase I re-opening, Edwards said. Louisiana has four times the per capita cases as Mississippi, for example. “We are trying to strike the right balance between public health and the economy,” he said. “We are using the White House guidelines. We are not going to pretend we are in a better place than we are, even though we are in a better place than we thought we’d be.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Edwards was in the Oval Office with President Trump, Vice-president Pence, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and other members of the federal Coronavirus Task Force as they discussed the current status of re-opening the country and the need to do so in a safe and responsible manner. Pres. Trump said “We will be very careful as governors are re-opening.”
Regional COVID-19 Numbers
SWLA as of Wednesday, Apr. 29, Calcasieu Parish – 386, Allen – 90, Jeff Davis – 62, Beauregard – 37. Vernon – 16, Cameron – 7. In the Acadiana area: Lafayette Parish – 451, Iberia – 248, St. Martin – 228, St. Mary – 185, St. Landry – 72, Acadia – 130, Evangeline – 49, Vermilion – 35