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Gov. Edwards: 'Our Trajectory Is Basically The Same As What They Had In Italy'

Ashley Dean
The French Market in New Orleans sits quiet and empty admidst government-ordered shutdowns in response to the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state’s health care system could be overwhelmed by the coronavirus in as little as one week without intervention by the federal government.

Edwards made the prediction on a conference call with President Donald Trump, FEMA administrators, and other governors.

“Coronavirus spread and its impact could begin to outpace our healthcare capacity in a certain region — down in the Orleans, Jefferson region — in about seven to 10 days without additional help from the federal government,” Edwards said.

Edwards characterized that as a worst-case scenario.

He asked the president for the authority to send COVID-19 patients to the federally run VA Hospital in New Orleans and for a federal medical station — essentially a pop-up hospital with a capacity between 50 and 250 beds.

“Even after surging we may only get an additional three days,” Edwards said.

If you break down cases per capita county-by-county, Orleans has the highest in the nation — more than double the rates in New York City and Seattle.

Edwards said there are even more worrying comparisons to be made.

“This is early, but our trajectory is basically the same as what they had in Italy,” Edwards said. “And if there is anything I said today that ought to get people’s attention, it’s that.”

Edwards didn’t introduce any additional social distancing measures, but said the lack of compliance with the ones already in place, puts Louisiana on track for that worst case scenario.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.