WATCH: Gov. Edwards speaks at the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge


BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state expects to see more presumptive positive cases in the coming days and weeks as he continues to encourage people to stay calm and informed.

Photo courtesy of Deon Guillory

“I don’t want anybody to see that and then panic. That just doesn’t help anything.”

Edwards made the comments Wednesday the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, saying stopping the spread of the virus is “a role we all have to play.”

“It’s really important that the public take certain measures to protect their health and reduce the spread of the illness, and reducing the spread of the illness is critically important. First of all, we want the peak to be as low as it could be and we want the duration to not come all at one time, because then you overwhelm the capacity to deliver healthcare. You also overwhelm the capacity to do testing.”

Edwards says the key to helping the spread of the illness remains the same: staying home you’re sick, washing hands frequently “and more fervently,” and avoid getting physically close to others. Older people and those with underlying health conditions should take additional precautions to avoid potential exposure, as they are the most at risk. This includes avoiding any kind of unnecessary airline travel and “under no circumstances should those people go on a cruise right now.”

“Guidance is gonna change, so don’t think we know everything today that we’re gonna know by the end of the week, and next week, and so forth. But older people and people with underlying health conditions are the ones most at risk, ” Edwards said, noting that there are enough cases worldwide to see the impact and ages of people most affected. “And so really, it’s about age 60 where there’s a difference between the impact. And of course, it’s greatest above 80, and people who have health conditions,” such as COPD, immune issues, or those going through chemotherapy.

“If there’s any good news,” the governor said, “it is that children are not – thus far at least, being impacted by any of this at all. 80% of the people who report positive, report symptoms that are relatively mild and get better without a lot of intervention.”

“However, there are some deaths associated with this, and that death rate, as best we can tell, is on an order of magnitude several times the rate of the flu.”

In the meantime, Edwards says state health officials are working conduct epidemiological investigations into when, where, and how each infection occurred.

“We now have to go back and figure out where, if we can, did these individuals contract the infection, this viral infection? We then have to figure out about when that happened, what is their travel history, who have they interacted with since that time, and then we have to contact those individuals and try to see if we can determine whether they are symptomatic and so forth. And as you can imagine, this is very time and labor-intensive, but you have to do it all as quickly as you possibly can.”

Health officials Tuesday confirmed three new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Louisiana as the state increases testing for the virus, bringing the total number of cases to six.

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