Gov. Edwards says rise in COVID-19 cases across La. is alarming considering flu season, upcoming holidays

Gov. Edwards says rise in COVID-19 cases across La. is alarming considering flu season, upcoming holidays
Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news conference about Louisiana's rise in COVID-19 cases Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards said he is concerned about the dramatic rise in Louisiana’s COVID-19 cases as residents are preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday and the state only being a month into flu season.

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported 3,492 cases of COVID-19 Friday, Nov. 13. Edwards says it’s the highest number of cases the state has reported during the pandemic.

LDH started to include positive results from antigen tests in its reporting Friday, but Edwards said 2,812 cases still came from traditional PCR tests, a number which is still alarming. Results from antigen tests made up 680 of the 3,492 COVID-19 cases reported Friday.

Edwards said the 692 hospitalizations reported Friday were the highest since Sept. 11, negating the gains in terms of hospital capacity the state has made in the last two months.

The governor said neighboring states like Texas are setting up field hospitals and using refrigerated trailers as mobile morgues because hospitals are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in those states. Edwards said Louisiana is nowhere near that level, in terms of hospital capacity, but it could become an unfortunate reality if cases continue to rise at the current rate.

Gov. Edwards holds news conference on state's rise in COVID-19 cases Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

“It [spike in cases] doesn’t just happen, it happens for a reason," Edwards said. The governor added if Louisiana residents were to change their behaviors and follow COVID-19 mitigations and avoid risky gatherings, cases will decline.

Edwards said small gatherings have contributed to the spike in cases nationwide. He also encouraged people to “rethink” how they celebrate their favorite holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas because such events typically mix multiple generations together.

The governor said gathering inside without masks and in crowded stores around the holidays would be “high risk.” Small, outdoor gatherings are “medium risk,” according to Edwards. He suggested families celebrate with members of their own households or host virtual holiday dinners.

On a positive note, Dr. Joseph Kanter of LDH said Louisiana’s flu cases are below the national average. Normally at this time, Louisiana is leading the nation in flu cases, Kanter said.

He credited current COVID-19 mitigation measures in keeping the state’s number of flu cases low but said it was important for residents to follow the measures to prevent the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu.

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