BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that he expects measures ordered to slow the spread of the coronavirus to remain in place through the end of May, although he is not ready to officially say yet whether he will extend his stay at home order when it expires on April 30.
Edwards said that expectation is based upon models that show virus infection rates declining in the U.S. are premised upon mitigation measures being in place until the end of May.
Edwards also addressed the letter received Thursday from the state’s Board of Secondary and Elementary Education urging the state to immediately close public schools statewide through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
While he said he wants to have a conversation with state Department of Education leaders and be clear about what they are asking, “there’s a really good chance I’m going to quickly do what they’re asking me to do,” Edwards said.
The governor also addressed questions Thursday about whether some medically licensed providers in Louisiana – including abortion clinics in Shreveport and Baton Rouge – are violating emergency orders suspending all non-emergency medical procedures until further notice.
“We are trying to ascertain now whether any of these clinics are in violation of the orders that have been issued by the Louisiana Department of Health that stop non-emergency medical procedures in order to try to conserve PPE that could be used in the fight against COVID.”
Even after the rate of infections is brought down, Edwards warned that the threat will not be gone like the flip of a switch.
“What we all should recognize is that if this plays out how we expect, a high percentage of people will not have been exposed to the virus, making them especially susceptible to it moving forward.”
That’s why the governor says continuing to expand testing and contact tracing to track areas where cases are spiking will be more crucial than ever.