BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As coronavirus cases spike, Governor John Bel Edwards and East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome say they do not intend to tighten restrictions on businesses or revert back to a stay-at-home order.
“We’re going to pause where we are and try to get more compliance,” Gov. Edwards said Friday, June 26. “I need more compliance. The State of Louisiana needs more compliance. The businesses in Louisiana need more compliance because what we don’t want to do is go backward.”
Edwards says Louisiana is losing ground in its fight against the virus. The week of June 22, hospitalizations returned to the same level as the end of May, meaning Louisiana gave up all gains it made in June to reduce the number.
“If we have to support the rest of the state, as they have COVID-19 activity but do not have ICU capability, we don’t have enough beds in the state to support the entire state having a surge at the same time,” Our Lady of the Lake infectious disease specialist, Dr. Catherine O’Neal, said at a press conference Friday. “If you look at the map, that’s what’s happening.”
Texas and Florida have each reversed course and reimposed restrictions on bars and restaurants to try to squash a new spike in cases, driven primarily by young people.
In Louisiana, Edwards and Broome say there’s still time to reverse the trend by changing behavior. They’ve each implored Louisianans to wear masks, but neither intend to mandate it.
“Why would I add a fine onto a financially challenged family or individual that they probably cannot pay at this time? That is why I’m asking people to do the right thing,” Broome said.
She and Edwards have both called on business owners, particularly in the restaurant industry, to better enforce social distancing rules and ensure their employees are wearing personal protective equipment.
“I really need our business community to lead by example,” Broome said Friday. “I need our business community to step it up. There are far too many businesses in this community operating without the proper precautions.”
Broome’s administration has set up a way to anonymously report misbehaving businesses, similar to a state program through the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal.
Call 225-389-8875 or use BRLA.gov/CovidReport to file a complaint about a business not adhering to the state’s guidelines or to report a large gathering.
Broome says the Baton Rouge Police Department will visit businesses that are not in compliance and ask them to change their behavior. She says repeat offenders may be shut down.
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