BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards took on an even more serious tone in an afternoon briefing Monday on the state’s response to the spread of coronavirus.

“No one should have a false sense of security when they look at the parishes and see which ones have and do not have cases,” Edwards said, adding that he has been told to expect more cases and noting that those who have tested positive most recently were likely exposed 4 to seven days ago.

Edwards’ comments come after taking even more aggressive measures Monday morning to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which had risen by another 22 new cases by 4 p.m to a total of 136. Edwards also announced that a third person has died from COVID-19 in Louisiana, describing the victim as an 84-year-old man in Orleans Parish.

“On a per-capita basis, we have of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in the country,” the governor said.

Additionally, Edwards said one of the new cases is in Ascension Parish, making it the first in the capital region.

RELATED: Louisiana Legislature shuts down until March 31 due to coronavirus concerns

Earlier that day, the state closed bars, movie theaters, casinos and limited restaurants to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only.

“We are all in agreement that mitigation measures need to be stepped up significantly and immediately here and around the country,” Edwards said.

He noted that the state was experiencing its first cases just a week ago.

It it still true that a majority of cases are in New Orleans area, Edwards noted, but COVID-19 is expected to spread statewide. The newest case is in Ascension Parish.

“If your community has not been named, that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t present,” Edwards said. “And it certainly does not mean no one has been tested before there isn’t a case in your area.”

The state is requesting small business administration assistance for businesses that will be impacted by the state’s response to curtail virus’ spread.

Speaking to Louisiana residents, the governor encouraged cooking at home, and. as many locals say, “make groceries.” Grocery stores, pharmacies will remain open nationwide, which was reiterated by the White House on Monday.

Those most vulnerable to COVID-19 remain to be ages 65 and over and with pre-existing illnesses such as heart, lung disease and those undergoing cancer treatments.

Those younger are urged to practice “social distancing” as they could be carrying the virus, the governor said.

The governor’s office released this statement about the newest measures being used against the spread of the coronavirus:

Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards took additional significant measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, further limiting the size of gatherings to fewer than 50 people, closing casinos, bars and movie theaters and limiting restaurants to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only. These changes are effective statewide at midnight. Operations may be able to resume on April 13, however, the situation will be reevaluated seven days prior. In Louisiana, there are 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two people have died.

“More aggressive steps are necessary to fight the spread of COVID-19 across Louisiana. Following additional guidance from the CDC, gatherings of more than 50 people are no longer permitted, bars and casinos must close and restaurants will only be able to offer take out or delivery,” Gov. Edwards said. “These limitations were difficult to make, but they are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect the health of Louisianans and flatten the curve.”

“What we’re learning is that it can take two weeks for symptoms to appear. We believe we are still unearthing community spread that’s been around for the past several weeks, which means it is a statewide problem that requires statewide solutions,” Gov. Edwards said. “In addition to meeting with Sen. Bill Cassidy this morning who is supportive of our efforts, I was also on a call with President Trump and Vice President Pence that lasted more than an hour and they were very clear that we must significantly expand our mitigation efforts to slow the progress of COVID-19 before there is more community spread. Action must be taken now, even in areas where there are no confirmed cases yet.”

The Governor updated his public health emergency proclamation to include the following:

  • Gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people.
  • Casinos and bars will be closed.
  • Restaurants will be closed to patrons eating on site. Take-out, drive-through and delivery orders are allowed.
  • Movie theaters will be closed. 

More Coronavirus News