BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state will stay in a modified version of Phase 2 of the White House’s guidelines for reopening the U.S. economy until Feb. 10.
The governor made the announcement during a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and said he was extending his executive order for the modified Phase 2 due to the high level of the virus spreading in the state.
“Every region of the state has a [COVID-19] positivity rate over 10%,” he said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but right now, we are in a very dark place.”
“What we are seeing is a huge spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations across the state, putting us in a dangerous position where we are seeing major stress on our health care systems. These continued mitigation measures are completely necessary, but they only work if people follow them. Informal social gatherings are the biggest culprit right now and people need to understand that you should not be spending time with those outside of your household unless it is absolutely necessary,” Gov. Edwards said. “We also strongly recommend that any employer who can should have their employees work from home whenever possible. We are very fortunate to live in a time when we have the technology to do many things from the safety of our own home that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago. Let’s take advantage of that technology in order to slow the spread.”
Under the modified version of Phase 2, capacity for most businesses will stay at 50%. Gov. Edwards said it is “time to buckle down” and urged all residents to do what they can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“These are the things we were doing at the start of the pandemic. But as things have gone on, people have gotten more lax. It’s time to buckle down with what we know works, and that’s wearing masks, social distancing, staying at home when you are ill and keeping to your own household,” Gov. Edwards said.
The Governor’s new order expires on February 10, 2021.
Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include the below:
- All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.
- All businesses, private and public sectors, should have as many employees work from home as they can.
- All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.
- For bars in parishes above 5% positivity, bars are closed to indoor sales and consumption but open for outdoor consumption at tables only and at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery will still be available.
- Retail businesses may open at 50% capacity, except for essential businesses, as defined by federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
- Gyms may be open at 50% of their capacity.
- Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate household, whichever is less.
- Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
- Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.
- Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75 individuals.
- Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.
- All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.
Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate is still in place. For complete guidance on the new Phase 2, you can visit the Open Safely portal at opensafely.la.gov.
As COVID-19 continues to surge, there are more people in the hospital fighting the virus, than any of our previous surges.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), also echoed the governor’s bleak picture of the state’s fight against COVID-19.
“And folks really need to take that to heart. it is dangerous right now...and people need to be as careful as possible”, said Dr. Joseph Kanter with the LDH
Gov. Edwards urged the state’s employers to allow employees to work from home if possible and asked residents to order take out from restaurants instead of dining in.
The governor said the COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered in every parish in the state. He said the vaccine is safe and effective and asked every resident to get vaccinated when it becomes available to them.
But many folks are taking advantage of getting a vaccine if they’re eligible.
“As of today, as of this morning, Walgreens has administered 1,644 doses in nursing homes and CVS has administered 6,414 doses to nursing homes”, said Dr. Kanter.
The state is sending about 36,000 doses of the vaccines to 210 providers, like pharmacies across the state. And nursing homes are getting more supply as well. But the governor says the state needs more vaccine doses from our federal partners.
“We have a lot more people eager to get the vaccine and a lot more providers eager to give the vaccine than we have vaccine available to us”, said Dr. Kanter.
Louisiana has been following the guidelines put out by the CDC, regarding what groups are eligible to get a vaccine first. But now, the newly changed federal guideline puts people 65 years and older in that first priority group.
“This happened today and we’re still taking a good look at that and it’s going to be some time before we announce any changes if at all with our approach with respect to priority groups”, said Governor John Bel Edwards.
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