BATON ROUGE, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday expressed some concern over the growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations but said the state is faring “relatively well” compared to the rest of the country in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Edwards made the comments during his 55th monthly statewide call-in radio show, “Ask the Governor,” via 89.3 WRKF in Baton Rouge.
“Overall, we’re doing relatively well,” Edwards said. “It appears to me that most of the county is in the third surge. I’m not gonna say that’s happening here yet.”
While many states across the country are experiencing another spike in new cases of the coronavirus, Louisiana hasn’t yet followed a similar trajectory. In the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Edwards said Louisiana ranked No. 36 in new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, putting the state in “the orange zone.”
Edwards also said White House data shows Louisiana having the lowest statewide test positivity rate in a 10-state region that includes Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Though Louisiana’s positivity rate has risen “slightly” over the last week, Edwards said the latest report had the state in “the green zone.”
Louisiana is currently under Phase Three of its reopening plan, which followed a lengthy three-month stay in Phase Two that was triggered by a second surge of new cases and hospitalization over the summer.
The current order — which among other measures allows most businesses and churches to operate at 75 percent capacity, limits gatherings to 250 people, and includes a statewide mask mandate — is set to expire on Nov. 6.
Edwards urged citizens to continue following safety measures such as washing hands frequently, maintaining social distance from those outside of one’s immediate family, staying home when sick, and avoiding large crowds.
“Our mitigation measures are working and obviously we need to continue those because that’s how you… have as much normalcy as possible,” he said. “If we’ll do those things, we’re going to be fine.”
Though Louisiana hasn’t yet experienced a third surge in new cases, Edwards did point out an alarming trend regarding hospitalizations, which have been on the rise in the last month.
Since dropping to 518 on Oct. 4, hospitalizations have increased by 90 statewide — including a jump of 55 since Tuesday. On Wednesday, hospitalizations reached 608 across the state, marking the first time they were above 600 since Sept. 18.
“That’s the statistic that’s most concerning to me right now,” Edwards said of hospitalizations.
As he’s done throughout the last several weeks, Edwards took the opportunity to encourage people to get a flu shot, saying it’s “more important than ever” to limit the number of people who contract the flu amid a public health emergency. The governor was one of several local leaders who recently received their flu shot at Our Lady of the Lake’s North Baton Rouge Clinic.
Edwards also warned against “covid fatigue,” urging the public to stay “resolute” in the fight against a virus that has infected more than 177,000 people in Louisiana — leading to more than 5,500 fatalities — since March.
“We need to be resolute and determined,” Edwards said. “We’re gonna beat this thing, but it’s not over yet.”
Edwards will address the state regarding COVID-19 and ongoing recovery efforts from hurricanes Laura and Delta in a press conference set for 2 p.m. Thursday.