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Gov. Edwards Expects COVID-19 Cases To Soar With More Testing

Mar 18, 2020
Originally published on March 18, 2020 3:13 pm

Gov. John Bel Edwards told Louisiana residents to expect a spike in COVID-19 cases in the next 24 to 36 hours as state testing capacity increases and a wave of more than 1,000 commercial test results are returned.

Edwards announced that the state now has 257 COVID-19 cases and the death of two more residents of the Lambeth House retirement community in New Orleans. He later announced the death of a Jefferson Parish resident, bringing the death toll in the state to seven.

“Each of these numbers are not just cases,” Edwards said. “They represent our brothers and sisters.”

He urged people to adhere to increasingly aggressive social distancing measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have two weeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” Edwards warned. “We don’t want to look like Italy in two weeks.”

Edwards requested in his public emergency proclamation Monday that bars, casinos and movie theaters in Louisiana shut down beginning Tuesday at 12 a.m. He also urged restaurants to close indoor dining and only allow take-out and delivery. The proclamation also prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people.

The governor also said he was suspending foreclosures and evictions in the state. 

Edwards said that there are only a few more restrictions that he can enact, including a shelter in place order. He advised residents to “mentally prepare” for such measures, but said he does not think the order is needed at this time.

Attorney General Jeff Landry, a frequent opponent of Edwards on policy issues, confirmed Edwards’ authority to put restrictions in place. 

Landry stated that there are more drastic measures that could be enforced, but state officials are complying with civil law and the constitution in this unprecedented situation. He addressed that all orders concern the public’s health and saving lives.

In addition to health guidelines, Landry also asserted awareness of price gouging.

“We don’t want people or businesses to take advantage of this crisis,” said Landry, adding that his office is investigating 51 allegations of price gouging.

Landry asked customers who are suspicious of price gouging to report the name and address of the merchant, the receipt of the item or service and their names and addresses if applicable to local law enforcement.

LSU Head Coach Ed Ogeron encouraged Louisianians to stay calm, and “have faith in the game plan.”

“I do believe we have a winning plan,” Ogeron said. “Let’s follow the plan, do the things we are supposed to do, and I guarantee you, we will win.”