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Edwards: Stay-at-home order may have to be extended


BATON ROUGE, La (KLFY/KTAL) – Gov. John Bel Edwards said in his latest briefing Sunday that the state may well have to extend his stay-at-home order beyond the initial April 13 deadline. That determination, he said, will be made in the coming weeks and will depend on the state’s ability to slow the spread of coronavirus infections.

While the press conference dealt mostly with New Orleans’ Ernest Morial Convention Center being used as a field hospital, Edwards also spoke about the number of tests leveling off statewide. Fewer test results have come in over the last 24 hours than in some of the preceding days. The number of new cases confirmed Sunday increased by just 225, compared to the 569 confirmed on Saturday. Edwards said a substantial backlog of test results came in during the last 48 hours, but he said fewer tests do not mean the state is ‘flattening the curve.’

“Nobody is happy with the number of tests that has been administered,” said Edwards. “We still have a great need to flatten the curve.”

More than 27,000 tests have been completed, all but about 3,000 of them by commercial labs.

Edwards said the state is working to partner with businesses like Walmart where more public testing can be done. He also expressed a wish to get test results back to patients faster.

The governor said he is also continuing to petition the federal government for more ventilators from the national strategic stockpile. While none have been allocated yet, Edwards expressed hope that some would be released soon.

Regardless, he said the state’s hospital capacity has not been reached yet, but hospital beds may run out by April 10, based on current models.

Edwards gave the update on the state’s response to the coronavirus after a walkthrough of the convention center Sunday afternoon with Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The convention center is being set to take on patient overflow from local hospitals. Edwards said they are working to stand up 1,000 beds there over the next week with the capacity to expand.

The governor also said the state is prepared to surge additional capacity in New Orleans or elsewhere as needed.

State department of health figures show Louisiana now has 3,540 people known to be infected statewide and 151 people have died from the coronavirus. 1,127 are hospitalized, more than a third of them on ventilators.

“It is my hope and my prayer that we will not need them,” Edwards said.

In addition to staging for extra beds at the convention center in New Orleans, Edwards said work was underway to expand ICU beds at hospitals around the state, including at LSU Oschner Health in Shreveport, where he said they will be adding 120 ICU beds over the next month.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Caddo Parish rose to to 219 Sunday, reflecting an additional 30 confirmed since Saturday. In Bossier Parish, 11 new cases have been confirmed, bringing the total to 56.

As of 12 p.m. Sunday, there were 320 cases and eight deaths reported across the following Northwest Louisiana Parishes:

  • Caddo  –   219 case(s)  |  5 death(s)
  • Bossier  –  56 case(s)  |  0 death(s)
  • De Soto  –   25 case(s)  |  1 death(s)
  • Webster  –   9 case(s)  |  1 death(s)
  • Claiborne  –  4 case(s)  |  0 death(s)
  • Bienville  –  3 case(s)  |  1 death(s)
  • Natchitoches  –  2 case(s)  |  0 death(s)
  • Red River  – 1 case(s)  |  0 death(s)
  • Sabine  –   1 case(s)  |  0 death(s)

The coroner’s office confirmed two more deaths in Caddo Parish from the coronavirus Sunday night, bringing the total there to five. Red River and Sabine parishes have reported their first cases, with one each. They are among three of the most recent parishes to report their first cases, leaving just 5 parishes of the 64 statewide that have not yet reported any.

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