In his daily coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, Governor John Bel Edwards said the most recent data from the Louisiana Department of Health on the number of cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana may indicate that efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus are working.
At the same time, Edwards warned against residents letting the first sign of good news lull them into complacency.
“Its really essential that the people of Louisiana hear this message and understand that just because we think we’re starting to flatten the curve doesn’t mean our job is over.” said Edwards.
The governor also cautioned that despite the positive outlook of some indicators, other pieces of data still predicted more grim circumstances.
“[T]he most important numbers to our modeling… [are] the number of hospital admissions and the number of deaths… The trajectory we’re on related to hospital admissions is really good. The trajectory we’re on if you just look at deaths is not so good. And so the two most critical piece of information are not in agreement with one another as to whats going on out there.” said Edwards.
Data released by the Louisiana Department of Health today showed that the number of ventilators in use had decreased over the last 24 hours.
Edwards attributed that decrease to doctors treating COVID patients “more effectively.”
During several press conferences in late March, Edwards projected that if the rate of infections did not slow down hospitals could face a shortage of ventilators in early April.
Edwards now says that for a variety of reasons, the state believes it has enough ventilators to cover the patients that will require one.
“We think the mitigation efforts are working, we think the healthcare is being delivered in a way that keeps people off vents and gets them off vents sooner, and because of the additional vents that we’ve been able to bring into the state. All of that together, we don’t see [a ventilator shortage] happening over the next 10 days to two weeks.”
The governor also mentioned recently released racial COVID-19 data which showed African-Americans in the state dying in larger numbers than whites.
“We know that just over 70% of the COVID-19 related deaths in Louisiana are deaths of African-Americans while they make up 32 to 33% of our population. We are looking into this further and trying to figure out everything we about that.” said Edwards.
“We have a lot more questions than we have answers at this time.”
Asked about the backlogs of unemployment claims generated by the mitigation efforts, Edwards acknowledged a “tremendous demand”, and he said that the state had increased its capacity to take more applications over the phone and online. Despite saying he was not allowed to report the weekly number of unemployment claims early, the governor said the number had increased.