Governor extends Phase 2 amid ‘early signs’ of improvement in COVID-19 battle

Louisiana seeing ‘early signs of plateauing,’ officials say

Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards (Photo by Wesley Muller)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he has ordered a three-week extension of Phase 2 coronavirus restrictions in an effort to continue what newly-released data shows is a declining trend of COVID-19 cases across the state.

Edwards made the announcement during an afternoon press conference at the Louisiana State Capitol and said the 21-day extension will begin as the current term expires this week on Aug. 7.

“Over the past several days, we have been combing through the data,” Edwards said, “and the data shows we are beginning to move in the right direction…(though) it’s still too early to say we have changed the trajectory in a way that will be sustained.”

Louisiana Department of Health official Dr. Alex Billioux said the data indicates “early signs of plateauing.”

Health data for Tuesday included 1,873 new cases out of more than 20,000 tests conducted, bringing Louisiana’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 124,462. Deaths increased by 27 for a total of 3,937, but hospitalizations have decreased slightly to 1,487 with 240 patients on ventilators.

The number of people showing up to emergency rooms with coronavirus-related symptoms has also decreased, Edwards said.

“The improvements have been relatively modest, but we are encouraged,” the governor said. He attributed the improvements to the social distancing guidelines, mask mandate and bar closures.

The most positive signs came from health data averages over the last 14 days.

During the conference, Louisiana Department of Health officials unveiled charts showing the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been steadily decreasing in all regions of Louisiana over the last 14 days. Also, hospitalizations have been steadily decreasing in almost all regions over last 14 days.

“But by no means are we out of the woods,” said Billioux, the LDH doctor.

Billioux stressed that the decreases are relatively small, so residents must remain vigilant with Phase 2 guidelines and continue to wear face coverings in order to continue the trend, he said.