Gov Edwards: Data Shows the Curve Could Be Flattening, Urges Residents to Continue Social Distancing

Photo courtesy of John Bel Edwards office

Gov. John Bel Edwards was cautiously optimistic during Monday’s COVID19 briefing, stating that data may be beginning to show the flattening of the curve in Louisiana. However, he urged residents to remain vigilant and continue social distancing measures.

“We are hopeful we’re starting to see the beginning of flattening the curve,” Edwards said. “We have to keep doing everything we’ve been doing to have the best possible outcome.” According to Edwards, officials still need several more days of data in order to confirm those hopes.

Unfortunately, Louisiana still has one of the highest mortality rates from the COVID19 virus in the country. Half of the top 20 counties in the nation for deaths per capita are in Louisiana. In addition, Gov. Edwards pointed out that of the COVID19 deaths in Louisiana, 70 percent of them are black. “That deserves more attention,” Edwards said, “and we’re going to have to see what we can do to slow that trend down.”

Source: The Data Center analysis of UVA COVID-19 Surveillance DashboardJohns Hopkins 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Data Repository and Population Estimates 2019.

However, according to Gov. Edwards, hospitals in New Orleans and across the state are refining their processes and doing a better-than-expected job of keeping patients off ventilators. They have also been able to shorten the amount of time COVID19 patients are spending on ventilators. Because of this, modeling conducted by the state’s Office of Public Health no longer shows that Louisiana will run out of ICU and ventilator capacity later this week.

A Big Announcement

In addition to the good news regarding flattening the curve, Gov. Edwards and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced today that the state has reached an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli drug company currently one of the plaintiffs listed in Lousiana’s opioid epidemic lawsuit.

After negotiations with the state, Teva Pharmaceuticals has agreed to send a shipment of 8,000 tablets of azithromycin, more commonly known as Zithromax, Landry said. In addition, Teva will send 75,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Landry stated that both medications are already approved by the FDA and are in use for the treatment of other conditions such as lupus. These will be used in conjunction with a clinical study being conducted by Louisiana State University Medical School on the effectiveness of this drug combination in both treating patients with COVID19 and as a pro-active inoculation of sorts for healthcare workers who are on the front line. The study was authorized last week by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We have seen some promising results in some patients,” Landry said. “For me, anytime that we can find a treatment that has some sort of positive result, every patient we keep off a ventilator is another ventilator that we have for someone else.”

Landry also stated that because the state was provided the medication directly from the manufacturer, those who rely on hydroxychloroquine to treat other medical conditions will not have to worry about shortages, as has happened in other states.

As of Monday, there are 14,867 confirmed cases of COVID19 in Louisiana, with 512 reported deaths.

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans specializing in politics and social justice issues. In 2019, she was given the title of “Most Fearless” by The Bayou Brief. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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