BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards will keep Louisiana in Phase 2 of reopening its economy until Friday, Aug. 7. The governor’s executive order for Phase 2 was previously set to expire Friday, July 24.
Gov. Edwards says he will sign an extension of that executive order, which also includes a statewide mask mandate, limits indoor social gatherings to 50 people, and prohibits on-site consumption of alcohol at bars for another two weeks.
Click here to read the extended order.
The decision is driven largely by a spike in coronavirus cases that require hospitalization. Gov. Edwards says some facilities are choosing to delay non-emergency procedures on their own to divert resources to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“We’ve now very clearly turned a corner in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Alex Billioux with the Office of Public Health.
The state has requested more medical personnel from FEMA, Gov. Edwards says, though they’ve not agreed to send nurses and doctors to Louisiana yet. He also indicated the state is seeking to contract out private hospital staff from other states where the demand is less intense.
Gov. Edwards made the announcement during a news conference about the state’s response to COVID-19 on Tuesday, July 21.
The new executive order will not further tighten restrictions on businesses. The daily coronavirus numbers should begin to reflect the effects of the mask mandate during the last week of July.
Watch the full video of Gov. Edwards’ news conference below.
As of July 15, all regions of Louisiana had a seven-day average positivity of new tests that was greater than 10% and the overall statewide positivity rate was 15.46%, according to Gov. Edwards. The governor says the state’s goal is for this rate to be below 10%.
“We are seeing a high percent of new tests coming back as positive, increased hospitalizations over the past 14 days, and a high incidence rate across the state, which means Louisiana is not ready to move to Phase 3,” Gov. Edwards said. “We will continue with our current restrictions to see if we can slow the spread in Louisiana over the next two weeks. I believe in the people of Louisiana, who have already been able to flatten the curve once, and who I know can do it again. Please wear your face mask when you are in public, wash your hands frequently, stay 6 feet away from others, and stay home when you are sick. Additionally, federal surge testing is going on in key areas of the state. If you have access to this free testing, please take the opportunity to get tested. You can preregister at www.doineedacovid19test.com.”
Gov. Edwards also announced Tuesday that federally funded “surge” testing sites for COVID-19 will soon open up at the Rapides Coliseum in Alexandria, in addition to the recently opened site at Cajun Field in Lafayette.
Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health announced 1,737 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Tuesday.
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