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Gov. Edwards updates emergency orders as Louisiana leads U.S. in new COVID cases

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edward is updating his public health emergency orders as Louisiana becomes the state with the highest rate of growth in new cases, with 47 per capita, than any other state in the country.

“Louisiana is undeniably in a fourth surge,” Gov. Edwards said.

“The number of new cases diagnosed each day in Louisiana has been increasing since June the 16th and is now increasing in all regions of the state, just like numbers are increasing in all 50 states in our country, but the statewide average of daily cases per 100,000 residents has increased 208% over the past 14 days and Louisiana now has the highest growth rate in cases per capita in the United States of America. I want to let that sink in. We have the highest growth rate of new cases per capita of any state in the United States of America.”

For that reason, Edwards said the White House has notified Louisiana is a “State of Concern,” and he said the CDC is looking at Louisiana data now to gather the information it needs to make recommendations for the rest of the country.

The updated guidance includes:

  • All people – vaccinated and unvaccinated – should wear face masks while indoors if six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. 
  • All businesses should review their operations to accommodate employees in a way that reduces unnecessary contact to avoid the spread of COVID in the workplace.
  • All people should take a COVID test immediately after a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19.
    • If positive, they should isolate immediately. 
    • If negative, they should retest again between five and seven days post-exposure.
    • If they develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point they should test and immediately isolate pending the results. 

The governor says this guidance will remain in place at least until Louisiana is safely out of its fourth COVID-19 surge, with additional guidance and mitigation measures put in place if and when necessary to slow the spread of the more contagious and virulent Delta variant and preserve hospital capacity.

Noting that some of the new guidance differs from current CDC guidance, Edwards said, “I think that was good guidance until we started surging,” said Edwards, but not now that Louisiana has the highest growth rate for new cases in the country. “We are at the tip of the spear in the surge.”

However, he says the following guidance from LDH and the CDC has not yet changed:

  • At this time CDC advises that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19, and LDH is not yet altering this guidance.
  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even those who are fully vaccinated or without a known exposure, should get tested.
  • Anyone who tests positive should immediately isolate. Isolation (for those who test positive for COVID-19) typically consists of:
    • If symptomatic, at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, symptoms are improving, and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication
    • If asymptomatic but with a positive test, 10 days from the time the test sample was collected

Click here to view the full release from the governor’s office on the updated guidance.

The governor blames the delta variant and low vaccination rates for the latest surge.

“Just this week alone since Monday we’ve added 16,898 positive cases of COVID and we know that more than 80 percent of these are the delta variant. That is what’s causing this surge. And what’s enabling the surge is the low percentage of people who have been vaccinated.”

Right now, we have about 40% of our people who have taken at least one shot. That is nowhere near where we need to be. Of those eligible, 12 and older, just shy of 48% of Louisianans who have taken at least one shot. Again, that number is far below where we need to be to have the protection that we need in order to slow the spread and move towards ending the pandemic.”

Edwards is urging Louisianans to get vaccinated sooner rather than later, noting there are more than 1,400 vaccine locations available across the state. He also pointed out that, unlike the earlier waves of surging cases, there are “virtually no positive cases” among nursing home residents, a more vulnerable population in congregant settings that were among the hardest hit, because they are vaccinated.

“It is free, will not cost you anything out of your pocket, and it just might save your life.”

Citizens can get information on where to get vaccinated by calling 211 or the Louisiana vaccine hotline at 1/855/453-0774. They can also go to covidvaccine.la.gov.

“With school about to start, this really is the perfect storm, and the conditions are ripe for catastrophic outcomes for far too many individuals and families we’re also in hurricane season, but like hurricanes, this is a storm that we can control. We’re not powerless.”

The briefing comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana tick back up over 1,000, according to the latest data from the Louisiana Department of Health. That is the highest number of hospitalizations since February 11. The LDH also reported 3,127 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 512,843.

Louisiana is one of five states now on a travel advisory updated in Chicago this week as one of the latest states to surpass the threshold of 15 cases per day, per 100,000 residents. Arkansas is also on that list, reporting 1,987 new cases on Friday, driving the total case count for that state to 372,313.

The latest winners of the Louisiana Shot at a Million vaccine incentive lottery are set to be announced before Friday’s briefing. The first pair of winners were announced on July 16. Clement Dasalla and Skyla Degrasse won the cash prize and scholarship respectively.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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