“Nobody should think we are in the clear today, because we are not. We have a long ways to go”

Gov. John Bel Edwards jump started his daily press briefly by talking about the directive he gave earlier to members of the Resilient Louisiana Commission.

“The work of this group will be to guide the reopening of the economy,” he said.

Just when that will happen is still up in the air, it seems.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state for Wednesday, April 22 is 25,258 up 404 cases from the previous day. The number of deaths has also risen by 68 to 1,473. In New Orleans, the total number of cases is 6,209, a total of 40 more cases from the previous day. The number of deaths in Orleans Parish has risen by five from 367.

“It seems like just the other day we were here talking about going over 1000 cases. Now we are here looking at 1500,” Edwards said.

“We certainly don’t want to see the number of cases we are reporting today, even though we know that information is lagging,” he added, referencing when and how state leaders will reopen the economy and move into different phases of the reopening.”

While the increase in cases sparked some concern from Edwards during his daily press briefing, he also pointed to a “silver lining”, noting that the number of hospitalizations and ventilator use has decreased from the previous day. He also urged more Louisianans to get tested.

“There is no stigma for being tested for COVID-19. there is no stigma if you (test positive). Think about it as an opportunity to keep yourself and your family and your community safe.. We should not have a stigma with any public health challenge we face. Everybody should just get that out of your mind. And when it comes to opening the economy, what we do will be informed by testing and by contact tracing. Anything we do has to be informed by trusting, which has to be more robust than it currently is.”

The state’s current data on COVID-19 cases and deaths is based on more than 141,670 tests reported from state and private labs, though the states count of private test reporting has stalled at 135, 079 cases as it conducts a comprehensive review of commercial testing numbers.

When asked directly where Louisiana was in the 14-day trend needed to start the first phase of reopening, Gov. Edwards said he believes the state was “approaching day 7”, but issued those words with some caution.

“The current trajectory looks promising on hospitalization. On the cases, they have actually plateaued,” he said. “We do need to see them coming down, which is why I am unable to stand here and tell with any certainty (that sectors of Louisiana’s economy will begin to open) on May 1.”

He added, “Nobody should think we are in the clear today, because we are not. We have a long ways to go. The plan in place will remain in place at least until April 30. And when we move forward it will be with a plan consistent with guidelines from the CDC. What we do know is there will be a new normal.”

Face coverings will be a big part of that, Edwards said, announcing to members of the media at his daily that beginning Thursday they will be required to wear one to enter the briefing room.

“Everyone should be wearing masks. When you wear one, you are protecting others; and when others wear them, they are protecting you, which is why i am calling on Louisiana to mask up,” Edwards said. 

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