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Gov. Edwards says death count from COVID-19 in Louisiana exceeds death toll from Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards said in his daily briefing Thursday that he has been told the confirmed death count from the coronavirus pandemic in Louisiana now exceeds the death toll from Hurricane Katrina.

Estimates of the death toll from Hurricane Katrina vary, however. A 2014 study from the Louisiana Department of Health found up to 1,170 deaths of Louisiana residents were directly caused by the storm in Louisiana. According to the National Hurricane Center, 1,577 fatalities in Louisiana can be attributed to the storm.

As of Thursday, April 23, there were 1,540 deaths from COVID-19 reported in Louisiana, up 67 from the previous day. There are now 25,739 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Louisiana, which is 1.90% growth from the previous day.

RELATED: LDH now reporting ‘probable deaths’ from COVID-19 per CDC guidelines

The governor said the state says just needs a “slight boost” in testing to meet the minimum requirements for starting phase one of the reopening of the economy.

While the goal for the state is to do 200,000 COVID-19 tests per month, Edwards said the state needs to be able to do 140-150,000 tests per month. That’s how many have already been administered in Louisiana in the last six weeks.

That’s why the state is now focusing on sourcing things like testing swabs and viral transport medium. Louisiana universities are also helping to produce them locally.

If all goes well, Edwards said he hopes to be able to say more early next week about what phase 1 of reopening the economy in the state might look like. The current order expires on April 30. While it would be nice to go to phase one May 1, Edwards said they are still evaluating the criteria.

Also during his briefing Thursday, Edwards said he is not inclined to enact fines or arrests for people who refuse to wear masks in public.

“I will tell you it’s not my inclination at present to start arresting or fining individual members of the public for not wearing a mask, although I’m asking everyone to do that,” Edwards said, adding that it is likely that an order will require businesses to have their workers wearing them.

During his briefing Wednesday, Edwards called on Louisianans to “mask up” and wear masks in public places as a courtesy to others and to help everyone protect each other.

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