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Gov. Edwards warns COVID-19 is more widespread Louisiana than ever


BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards emphasized Wednesday that the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana is now statewide and more prevalent than it has ever been.

“We’ve completely lost the gains that we’ve made over the past couple of months and all of this has happened just in the last 3 weeks or so,” Edwards said in his latest COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

“There are some people out there who continue to believe the State of Louisiana continues to do better and that is not the case.”

The number of confirmed cases statewide rose to over 70,000 Wednesday, and Edwards said he learned on a call with CEOs and medical directors across the state Wednesday morning that they are seeing sustained increases in hospitalizations for the coronavirus.

The data is also now showing that those being hospitalized are younger, their stays are shorter, and a smaller percentage are ending up in ICU beds or on ventilators. At the same time, Edwards said, he is hearing that “patients are now skewing white and more male than was the case previously.”

That reflects efforts to highlight and promote better COVID-19 mitigation measures in the African American community, such as masking, social distancing, washing hands, and staying home when sick.

He said the biggest challenges from healthcare community center around staffing, treatment, and testing. In addition to concerns about a shortage of remdisivir, a drug approved for the treatment of hospitalized patients, Edwards said more of the nurses and other staff members are out because they, too, have tested positive.

Edwards also noted that the state is seeing increases in positivity rates. Out of the 18,139 results reported Wednesday, 10.41 percent came back positive. And unlike the more localized spikes in one or two regions in March and April, Edwards said cases and hospitalizations are rising in every region.

He also noted that Baton Rouge is one of three cities where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is supporting surge testing in “hotspot jurisdictions” around the country.

The hotspot testing sites aim to provide 5,000 tests per day above the baseline testing already underway in those cities.

“That should tell everybody in Louisiana all that you need to know about whether we have a serious situation and whether it’s getting worse. We do and it is.”

In fact, Edwards said, Louisiana is now fifth in nation for per capita COVID-19 cases. 

Billioux said bars, industrial settings and restaurants continue to be the most subject to causing the virus’ spread.

Despite the statewide surge in cases, Edwards said is not contemplating a mask order at this time, but he did say that remaining in Phase 2 was the right decision.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide rose by 1,891 on Wednesday, with another 20 deaths reported, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 70,151 and 3,231 deaths.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 95 percent of the cases reported to the state Wednesday were community spread and 39% of the cases involve individuals aged 29 and under.

The LDH says collection dates for most of these cases fall between July 1, 2020 and July 8, 2020.

There are 192 newly confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Northwest Louisiana, 111 of them in Caddo, bringing the total confirmed cases in the parish to 3,946. The Louisiana Department of Health is still reporting 243 deaths in Caddo, which is two more deaths than the 241 reported by the Caddo Coroner’s office as of Thursday evening.

Bossier Parish also added another 43 cases, Webster 11, and Sabine ten. Natchitoches added six new cases. De Soto and Bienville added four each. No new deaths were reported Wednesday in any of the nine NWLA parishes.

As of noon Wednesday, July 8, the LDH was reporting the following data on confirmed cases, deaths, and testing in Northwest Louisiana: 

  • Caddo  – 3,946 case(s)  |  243 death(s)  |  477 state tests  | 65,356 commercial tests
  • Bossier  –  1,142 case(s)  |  36 death(s)  |  71 state tests  |25,666 commercial tests
  • De Soto  – 394 case(s)  |  19 death(s)  |  75 state tests  | 5,394 commercial tests
  • Webster  –  459 case(s)  | 12 death(s)  | 176 state tests  |  7,955 commercial tests
  • Claiborne  –  135 case(s)  |  10 death(s)  |  100 state tests  | 2,480 commercial tests
  • Bienville  –  248 case(s)  |  28 death(s)  |  212 state tests  |  3,179 commercial tests
  • Natchitoches  –  340 case(s)  |  14 death(s)  | 330 state tests  |  4,893 commercial tests
  • Sabine  –  130 case(s)  |  1 death(s)  |  186 state tests  |  3,099 commercial tests
  • Red River  –  66 case(s)  |  9 death(s)  |  43 state tests  |  1,040 commercial tests

Statewide, hospitalizations for the coronavirus have dropped by three since Tuesday, from 1,025 to 1,022. The number of patients on ventilators also dropped from 109 to 104. Similarly, hospitalizations in Region 7 dropped by three after reaching 224 Tuesday, which is how many were hospitalized at peak on May 10.

Rising hospitalizations here prompted Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins to announce Monday he would be issuing an emergency order requiring customers to wear masks when entering businesses in the city.

Perkins signed that order Wednesday morning and later noted on his Facebook page that the 111 new cases reported in Caddo Parish reflect a positive test rate of more than 10 percent.

“That number continues to creep up, which demonstrates community spread,” said Perkins.

The LDH updates the number of people who are presumed recovered from the coronavirus weekly. As of Tuesday, July 7, that number stood at 46,334. LDH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux pointed to those numbers Wednesday in noting that, with more than 70,000 confirmed cases to-date, there are at least 25,000 known active cases in the state.

Billioux said that while more of those testing positive now are younger, the risk of exposing others who are at higher risk has also grown.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.

If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.

Stay up to date with the latest news and weather by downloading the Arklatexhomepage News App from the App Store or Google Play.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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