Edwards on stay-at-home order: ‘I did not take this lightly’

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Gov. John Bel Edwards has been providing updates on coronavirus cases in Louisiana | Catherine Hunt/LSU Manship School News Service

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order at a Sunday afternoon press conference, starting at 5 p.m. on Monday unless residents are performing an essential task like getting food or medicine.

“Please know this is a difficult decision for me to make, and I do not take this lightly,” Edwards said during a Sunday afternoon press conference.

Edwards said the stay-at-home order was necessary as Louisiana has the fastest growth rate of any state or nation in the world. In America, Louisiana has the third-highest rate of infection per capita.

Without taking these measures, Edwards said Louisiana is on track to have an infection rate similar to Italy or Spain, which are currently the worst two nations for coronavirus on the planet.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t be the next Italy,” said Edwards.

“We can get past this, but we’re going to have to take these mitigation measures seriously,” he said.

Edwards went on to say that people should not go to work unless providing essential services or visit friends or family without an “urgent need,” and should stay six feet apart from others.

“We need to be resolute, focused, determined and we need to beat this,” Edwards said. “We’re going to do it because we’re going to comply to these directives.”

Earlier this week, Edwards limited group gatherings to 10 people, as recommended by the federal government.

Early learning centers and child care facilities adhering to the guidance issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health may continue to operate.

Workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other critical infrastructure are exempt from the governor’s directive.

“The bottom line is we are in a race against time when it comes to this coronavirus and it’s rapid spread in Louisiana,” said Edwards.

Edwards said this order does not restrict travel from parish to parish or even across state lines, as those are just rumors.

This order also will not call for enforced checkpoints, but Edwards urged Louisiana residents to comply or else officials could consider mandating stops.

New York, California, Illinois and some cities have issued similar stay-at-home orders in the last few days.

The order is set to expire at the end of the night on Sunday, April 12.

At that time Edwards will then re-evaluate the need for the statewide stay-at-home order and other mitigation measures currently in place to determine if they need to be extended beyond April 12.

This is a developing story. We will have more as it becomes available.