Louisiana may be ‘flattening the curve’

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Gov. John Bel Edwards holds a press conference on COVID-19 April 6. (Photo courtesy of LPB via YouTube)

Edwards offers some hopeful words during Monday press conference

Gov. John Bel Edwards said some data has begun to suggest that Louisiana’s efforts toward mitigating the spread of COVID-19 may be having an effect.

“All these numbers are still high, and they are higher than we would like, but we are starting to see real signs that the mitigation measures we put in place weeks ago are starting to show real results,” Edwards said. “We’re hopeful we’re beginning to see a flattening of the curve. We only have a few data points, and it’s not a trend yet, but we believe we may see it.”

At his daily media briefing on Monday, Edwards said new hospital admissions are trending downward. He said Louisiana’s hospitals also are doing such effective work that some patients are staying on ventilators fewer days than the average is, and some patients are staying in the hospital for fewer days than the average.

As of Monday, Louisiana had confirmed 14,867 cases of the novel coronavirus and 512 deaths, putting the state near the top of the list nationwide for cases and deaths per capita. The figures represented an increase of 1,857 new cases, and Edwards pointed to Louisiana’s relatively high rate of testing compared to other states, though the United States as a whole had a slow start to testing and has administered fewer tests than many other countries, hampering the nation’s ability to respond to the pandemic. 

Edwards said he doesn’t want anybody to feel they can get back to normal – because it is continued adherence to social distancing, stay-at-home and hygiene measures that will help the hospitals hold the line against the virus.

“Even if we are starting to see improvement in the numbers, and we’re starting to see a trend that’s very hopeful, we have to maintain all the practices that we’ve been talking about for weeks. What this hopeful information shows is that the efforts might be working, Edwards said. 

“We’ve bought ourselves more time. We have to continue to do those things to buy our hospitals time,” he added. 

Edwards said the White House has told his administration to stick with social distancing measures, including a stay-at-home order, through April. The state’s stay-at-home order, which shutters K-12 schools, bars, casinos, gyms and a host of other businesses, is currently in place until at least April 30th, but Edwards has warned residents to prepare for disruptions to daily life for potentially months.

Edwards said the state has secured 753 ventilators in recent weeks, and has distributed all but 200 of them. Of those, 350 came from the federal stockpile, where Edwards has asked for 7,000.

Edwards said if you’re going out on your essential trip, you should wear a mask.

“It’s not recommended you use an N95 mask, those need to go to medical providers. Individuals can use cloth masks and coverings that are pretty easy to make at home,” Edwards said.

Edwards said he knows a lot of people in Louisiana are going to miss their big family gatherings that we usually have during this time of year for the Easter holiday. He asked that everyone continue to practice social distancing and cancel the gatherings.

“Stay home to save lives,” he said. “I suggest you can’t do anything more Christ-like than saving lives.”