Is the Easter Bunny an essential worker?
"I believe so," Gov. John Bel Edwards said with a laugh.
At Wednesday's press conference, Edwards announced that anecdotal evidence had suggested that the positive trends in the novel coronavirus' numbers throughout Louisiana had given people what he described as a "false sense of hope."
The governor said he had been told that individuals were out in larger quantities, especially in the capital region, on Wednesday after a third straight day of positive coronavirus news.
"That's not the message I've been trying to deliver," the governor said flatly.
The novel coronavirus reached 17,030 reported cases in Louisiana, but hospitalizations dropped to 1,983, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
That’s an increase of 746 cases overnight — the second day in the last week the number of new cases were less than 1,000 — and a decrease of 16 hospital admissions, according to the Department of Health.
The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators also dropped by 29 overnight, bringing the current total to 490. Over the last two days, the number of people using ventilators has decreased by 62 — an 11-percent drop from Monday.
For the second straight day, the Department of Health reported 70 new COVID-19 related deaths, which remains the largest single-day jump in fatalities. The statewide death toll now stands at 652, with 43 of the state’s 64 parishes reporting at least one COVID-19 related death.
The Department of Health is now reporting 81,406 completed tests, either through the state lab or commercial labs. This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state leads the nation in testing on a per-capita basis, though he has expressed his desire to see more testing done in Louisiana’s rural communities.
However, the governor said, COVID-19 "is in control."
The best thing for Louisianians to do? Follow the stay at home order, keep distancing socially, and remember the mitigation efforts.
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Disinfect common surfaces at home and work
- 10 or less at any public gathering, preferably no gatherings at all
- Stay six feet away from others in public places
- Control cough and sneezing with elbow or tissue
- Stay home if sick and utilize telehealth to contact your doctor
- Stay home unless visiting doctor, pharmacy, or grocery store
- Don't touch your face
"We know this weekend will be different for most in Louisiana," the governor explained, referencing the usual Easter gatherings that include fellowship, family, and for some - crawfish boils.
"There is no Easter exemption from the Stay At Home order."
"There is no Easter exemption from the 10 person limit - in fact (the state) is asking that you don't gather in groups of 10, at all!"
"The virus is very much in control of our social efforts," the governor said. "We can control how bad this gets."
So far, Louisiana has spent roughly $500 million on fighting COVID-19, mostly through the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. According to Edwards, how much higher that financial number goes depends on how closely people follow the rules.
The last three days, the state has delivered positive news with regard to the novel coronavirus. While cases grow, those on ventilators have dropped and new hospitalizations have slowed - with those data points moving in the right directions, models no longer show healthcare infrastructure being overwhelmed in Region 1 (New Orleans) in the next 10 days.
Deaths continue at roughly the same rate, unfortunately, and the governor said the state Deparment of Health is looking into the issue - especially among African Americans, who make up almost 70% of deaths so far, due to COVID-19.
The governor explained earlier in the week that ventilator usage was dropping due to new treatment information that showed using ventilators too early in treatment could be more harmful than helpful. He also explained the state was not out of the woods yet, with regard to hospitalizations, as the number drops there is still a large number of those "under investigation" who are not counted as "hospitalized COVID-19" patients.
"Under investigation" means that they are symptomatic, they have gone through the test, and they may even be in the hospital - but they do not have a positive test yet.
Edwards said that individuals must continue to follow the mandates, otherwise the coronavirus could continue to affect Louisiana. What does the Bayou State look like after Apr. 30?
"We don't know," the governor said, "we don't even model past 10 days, it's irresponsible."
The governor said economic recovery, however, depended on how closely people followed the rules and stuck with the game plan. The longer this rules stayed in place, the worse this would get.
The governor, in response to a question as to how long it will take to return to normal, explained that the old ways will not return until after a therapeutic treatment is available for COVID-19, and a vaccine.