Gov. Edwards gives stern warning about rising COVID-19 hospitalizations during news conference

Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards called for Louisiana residents to help state healthcare providers flatten the curve Thursday, July 23 as cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continue to rise across the state.

The governor asked residents to follow the statewide mask mandate, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and practice proper hygiene. He also asked people to stay home as much as possible and avoid large social gatherings.

Earlier in the week, the governor extended Phase 2, saying the state will remain in the second phase of reopening the economy until at least Aug. 7. Click here to read the extended Phase 2 order.

ONE-STOP-SHOP: Stats, links related to COVID-19

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported 2,408 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana Thursday and 3,574 deaths.

LDH reported 1,585 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 197 of those patients are on mechanical ventilators to help them breathe.

Health officials also said Thursday that 101,650 people had been infected with COVID-19 since March. On Wednesday, July 22, officials said 61,456 people had recovered from the virus.

Gov. Edwards said during his nearly hour-long news conference that people have become accustomed to hearing the daily number of coronavirus cases in the state and across the country. However, he said he hoped Louisiana residents would take notice of the milestone in which the state surpassed 100,000 since the pandemic began and take the threat of the virus seriously.

See the video of the full news conference below.

The governor said COVID-19 is starting to affect hospitals across the state because of staffing issues. Gov. Edwards said the state cannot afford to lose the ability to deliver life-saving healthcare.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing at concerning levels in Alexandria, Lake Charles, and Lafayette, according to Gov. Edwards.

Hospital officials from Lafayette and Baton Rouge joined Edwards at the news conference to explain that nurses who have been on the front lines of the state’s fight against COVID-19 are experiencing “burnouts,” or are becoming infected with the coronavirus due to the high amount of community spread in Louisiana.

Dr. Henry Kauffman of Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Lafayette explained fatigue is becoming a major problem among doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel.

Kauffman said that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for nurses and doctors to properly care for their own immune systems because they’re being overworked and not getting the rest they need. Edwards also said that

Hospital officials with Lafayette General, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge said they have temporarily suspended non-emergency procedures for at least two weeks due to the lack of hospital space and staff available.

During his press conference on Tuesday, July 21, Gov. Edwards announced that the state will stay in Phase 2 of reopening until Friday, Aug. 7. The governor’s executive order for Phase 2 was previously set to expire Friday, July 24.

The statewide mask mandate has also been extended until Aug. 7.

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