Louisiana governor taking cautious approach to re-opening

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gives an update on the spread of coronavirus in the state of Louisiana, Thursday, April 9, 2020, at GOHSEP in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Amid hopeful signs in Louisiana’s struggle against the new coronavirus, Gov. John Bel Edwards is looking at when, and how, efforts to stop the spread can be altered to ease devastating effects on the state’s economy.

Edwards made clear at a Wednesday news conference in Baton Rouge that the decisions won’t be easy.

“We’ve done a Herculean job of really turning around what was the fastest growth rate in the world in order to flatten the curve,” Edwards said. “We know it wouldn’t take long in order to see cases spike again.”

Edwards was exptected to again touch on future efforts to open the economy at a Thursday news conference and in an afternoon online “town hall” on theadovcate.com and nola.com.

More than 1,100 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in Louisiana. But the state has seen encouraging signs in combating the virus, with slowing rates of new infections and new hospitalizations, and fewer patients on ventilators. Edwards credits people remaining physically distanced from others.

By Tuesday, the state had nearly 22,000 known cases. and the number has consistently increased as testing has become more available. Officials say there are signs of hope in slowing rates of new infections and new hospitalizations, and fewer patients on ventilators.

The number hospitalized fell below 2,000 this week and those needing ventilators numbered 425 on Tuesday, well below last week’s totals.

Still, Edwards has repeatedly said social distancing must continue to keep the numbers down. In New Orleans, which has more than 5,700 cases, Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Tuesday extended a stay-at-home order until May 16. It had been scheduled to end on April 30.

For most people, the highly contagious coronavirus causes symptoms such as high fever and a dry cough that resolve in several weeks. But some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can suffer severe symptoms that can be fatal.

By: Associated Press

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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