Governor John Bel Edwards Press Briefing Addresses Social Distancing, African American Deaths, and Small Businesses

As expected, there was good news and bad news at the Governor’s press briefing, with some of the highlights concerning African Americans infection rate, continued social distancing, and help for small businesses. Governor Edwards said, “Yesterday I announced we believe we’re seeing early signs that the mitigation efforts are starting to pay off.“However, “I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I’m saying yesterday or what I’m saying today. We are seeing early signs the curve is starting to flatten, but what this means is we have to continue to do those things that cause the curve to flatten, that have caused the slowing of the spread of this virus, this disease, and that the mitigation measures, the stay at home order, getting out when only absolutely necessary. And doing things that are essential and not doing essential things every day, and when you do, practice social distancing.”

About the recent suggestion people wear masks when out, he added, “And now you’re being encouraged to wear a mask when you have to get out in close proximity to other people, making sure you’ve been following all the hygiene measures we’ve been talking about along, such as controlling your cough, such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water in for 20 seconds. For using hand sanitizer, staying six feet away from people and so forth.”

However, “We cannot say with absolute confidence the curve is flattening, but we’re seeing more evidence that we are moving in that direction.”

Comparing the modeling of how the curve can potentially flatten to what could increase the number of infected people to spike massively he said, “All we have to do is stop complying with the mitigation efforts, the safety measures, we’re gonna see our numbers spike back up to where they were.” He continued, “Just because we think we’re starting to flatten the curve doesn’t mean our job is over. In fact, this is going to be the time to double down. This week is going to be a very difficult week, and next week is going to be difficult.”

The Governor pointed out that it was a state wide problem, and that while much of Louisiana is complying, some of it is not: “I encourage them to do better.” He said.

He then went into statistics including: 1,417 new cases, totaling16,284 cases across the state, and 70 new deaths, the highest amount of deaths reported in a 24-hour period. He pointed out that “519 patients are currently on ventilators.” However, “That’s a decrease yesterday from 552 patients.” 63 of 64 parishes now have reported infected in them.

Touching on one of the more uncomfortable statistics he said, “I mentioned yesterday, and this is the source of a lot of national news reporting, not just in Louisiana, but around the country that we know that just over 70 percent of the Covid-19 related deaths in Louisiana are deaths of African Americans, while they make up 32 to 33 percent of our population. We are looking into this further and trying to figure out everything we can about that.” And while they are looking into it, the governor candidly said, “We have more questions than we have answers at this time.” But, “As soon as we have more information, we’re going to give that to you.”

He pointed out that, “We have ramped up testing to a degree inLouisiana, that no other state has done.” He pointed out that according to some sources, “We number one per capita in testing.” However, “We want a lot more testing. We want a lot more testing in rural areas.”

He added that, “All 64 parishes have received PPE (Edit: Personal Protective Equipment).” Interestingly the source of at least some of our PPE came from some surprising sources, “I specifically want to thank Apple and AmeriCorps for sending masks to our state as promised by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple.” Saying that apple supplied 4,000 masks last night, and that AmeriCorps supplied more than 14,000 masks as well.

He further encouraged people that when they shop, to buy locally, “So When you go out and purchase food, please, think about spending a few dollars on seafood caught and produced here in Louisiana. Every dollar helps.” For those curious about the best way to do that he recommended people check out,

Before taking questions from the press, he introduced two questions from the public, including Maggie of New Orleans, who asked, “If so, many people who are positive are asymptomatic, why are we limiting testing to only those with symptoms? Isn’t it important to identify all positives so that they don’t spread the virus unknowingly. In response, Edwards said, “The tests are not designed to give a reliable result for someone who is asymptomatic. And so someone who is asymptomatic, may actually have the disease, maybe shedding and transmitting the virus, the test is going to potentially come back negative, giving that individual a false sense of security, so that rather than engaging in the mitigation measures, he or she would be more inclined to go out and start interacting with people again, and that’s why we don’t do it.”

The other question from Palmer, of Baton Rouge was, “What is your advice for small business owners who live pay check to pay check and cannot afford to pay their employees for two weeks or even take out a loan?”

The governor responded, “First of all, I encourage all small businesses like Palmer to apply for the pay check protection program and do it today.” Adding, “It’s imperative that you do it now because there are 439 billion dollars available.” But he pointed out that much of it had already been accessed, so the sooner the better.” Continuing, he said, “You can also apply for direct assistance by contacting for help from the small business administration.”

Along with those he pointed out that, “And I also recently announced that we also have a new loan program in Louisiana called Louisiana Portfolio Guarantee Program which will offer loans of up to a $100,000 to Louisiana businesses with fewer than 100 employees who were impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The loans will require no payments and accrue no interest for the first 180 days.” Apply at

At the end of his press conference, he reiterated “Please stay home.” Adding, “It’s important that people continue to practice social distancing.”

There will be another press conference tomorrow at 2:30 PM.



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