BATON ROUGE, La., (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana will stay in the federally dubbed “Phase Two” of COVID-19 recovery until at least Aug. 7, the state’s governor announced Tuesday.
Gov. John Bel Edwards cites rising hospitalizations, which have strained hospital staff, as well as a statewide positive case rate second only to New York.
“It is my hope, and quite frankly, it is my expectation that we don’t go backwards,” Edwards told reporters at the State Capitol. “We will do what is required to make sure we don’t exceed our capacity to deliver life-saving care at our hospitals.”
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,691 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total case count to 96,583. Of them, 3,498 people have died, with more than 53,000 presumed recovered.
Edwards said flattening the number of active cases will take more of what he has demanded for weeks: capping restaurants and storefronts to half their capacities, limiting public gatherings to 50 people, keeping bar doors closed and adding two weeks to a statewide mask mandate.
“At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we have to do the things we’ve been talking about all along,” the governor said. You’ve got to wear your mask. You’ve got to social distance.”
“We’re hopeful that with those measures, we’ll begin to see in a week’s time a levelling off of our cases and hopefully see some decreased pressure on our health systems,” said Dr. Alex Billioux, who oversees LDH’s Office of Public Health.
Edwards has asked FEMA to bring out-of-state doctors and nurses to high-demand hospitals. In recent weeks, more facilities have delayed non-emergency procedures just to keep intensive care units afloat. His request remains pending, though he has argued Louisiana’s heavy case load may give the state leverage for help.
The governor added Tuesday that federally funded surge-testing sites will soon open in Alexandria, to accompany existing spots in Baton Rouge and Lafayette.