Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Thursday morning press conference focused on the ongoing coronavirus crisis in Louisiana, the White House’s instructions to states to prepare to distribute an eventual vaccine and the ongoing effects that Hurricane Laura is continuing to have on Louisiana parishes and the people who live there or have been displaced because of the storm.
Here are a few of the high points of the governor’s remarks from the Louisiana State Police Training Academy in Baton Rouge.
Governor doesn’t want Labor Day celebrations to lead to COVID-19 breakouts
“We know that the last surge in cases in Louisiana started with Memorial Day, the holiday that traditionally starts summer,” Edwards said. “Now we’re about to have Labor Day, the holiday weekend that ends summer.”
“What we don’t want is a repeat of what we saw Memorial Day,” he said.
Well into June, Gov. Edwards insisted that celebrations surrounding Memorial Day had not worsened the COVID-19 crisis in Louisiana, but toward the end of that month — especially when he was announcing that Louisiana would not move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan — the governor said that the state’s second big spike in cases got a start in or around the May 25 holiday.
On Thursday, Edwards reported 884 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths from the viral infection. That means Louisiana has cleared another grim milestone: more than 150,00 cases. There have now been 150,621 known cases of COVID-19 in the state and 4,858 deaths. According to the Louisiana Department of Health website, 134,432 COVID-19 patients in Louisiana are presumed to have recovered.
Edwards said Labor Day celebrations aren’t his only concern. Louisianians, he said, have to be even more vigilant now because schools and universities are back in session.
“If you’re going to celebrate,” Edwards said, “make sure you do so in a way that’s safe, that incorporates all the mitigation measures.”
Louisiana asked be prepared for vaccine distribution by Nov. 1
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked states to have distribution sites for a COVID-19 vaccine up and running by the end of October.
Edwards said he doesn’t interpret that to mean there will be a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready to distribute Nov. 1. He takes it to mean that the state should have a distribution system in place by then so that when a vaccine does become available, Louisiana will be ready and its residents will have access to it.
“We’re engaging in conversation with the CDC to see exactly what they intended by this, and what we can do to be more responsive,” Edwards said. “When we have more information about it, we’ll certainly let you know.”
Laura evacuees sheltered in Texas hotels are encouraged to stay there
A week after Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in Cameron Parish Thursday, Aug. 27, more than 10,000 Louisianians are still living in hotels or shelters in the state. There’s not much room for anybody else, Edwards said, which means that Louisianians who have been sheltering in Texas need to stay there.
“If we had 4,000 people that came back from Texas, but they needed to be sheltered in Louisiana, we would be very very hard pressed to meet that demand,” he said.
Edwards said Louisiana has done a good job finding hotels to accommodate storm victims who need shelter. However, he said, “We don’t think we’d be able to quickly absorb another two, three, four thousand people into our hotels based on where we are right now.”