“The people of Louisiana are responding”- Gov. John Bel Edwards

Governor John Bel Edwards press conference

Today Governor John Bel Edwards updated the state about the progress being made in its COVID-19 response. The state is currently reporting 333 new cases of a virus in Louisiana for a total of 29,673 since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, Governor Edwards stated “sadly today we’re reporting new deaths —22 of them—for a total of 1991”. However, the governor added “overall the numbers are encouraging. The last 3 days the deaths have been the lowest in more than a month and it’s still a high number and we grieve every loss.” He added that the state has dropped from number two to number seven in per capita cases of the virus in the country.

20,316 Louisianans are presumed to have recovered from the virus as of May 2. The state is expected to release new numbers every Monday. The governor also added that there are still over 9000 people who have still not recovered.

Testing and Relaxing restrictions 

As the state prepares to relax restrictions on the stay-at-home orders and begin to engage more of the economy, the governor stressed the importance of contact tracing. Edwards promised that on Friday he will present an extensive plan on contact tracing and testing. The governor stated that the goal is to reach 200,000 tests per month.

“Over the last 24-hours we received our first allocation of swabs, which, as we ramp up to 200,000 tests per month, is 4.3% of our state’s population; and we’re going to start that in the month of May. The swabs will be resourced and the vast majority of our viral transport medium will be resourced, as well by the federal government and so those shipments have started coming in,” Edwards stated.

The state will be responsible for about 25% of the viral transport needed and will work with local entities to procure those resources.

The governor stressed the importance of following proper hygiene, social distancing, and wearing masks as a way of continuing to move the state in the direction of reopening. He also encouraged Louisianans to be particularly cautious while celebrating Cinco de Mayo in restaurants. Edwards stated “obviously they’ll be sitting outdoors. There won’t be any waitstaff waiting on the tables and anyone working for these restaurants that comes into close proximity to the individuals interacting with the public will be required to wear masks.”

New website for businesses

The state will launch a new website called Open Safely, which will lay out social distancing guidelines and requirements for each phase of the reopening.

Butch Browning, the state Fire Marshal, stated  “the Open Safely program is a collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Health required criteria of mitigation, as well as the fire code issues and capacity issues that are necessary for a business to properly open.” Browning also stated  “today the program will be active to the citizens of Louisiana. Businesses will be able to register their property and to be notified when certain phases are open…immediately, when they register, receive the guidance they need to get their business in commerce. In addition to that, consumers and customers will be able to file a complaint, if, they in fact, go to businesses and feel like the mitigation standards and the fire code standards are not being followed.”

Businesses will also receive an acknowledgement poster that can be displayed in their business. Browning expressed the ease in which a business can register and access the information needed in order to be in compliance with each phase of safely reopening. In addition, businesses will also be subject to random inspections in order to ensure compliance.

“When a compliance check is done, that business owner will receive an email with the results of that compliance check up…a very transparent situation,” Browning added.

Browning also pointed out that there will be specific guidance for each type of business ranging from barber shops to restaurants.

Following White House guidance

Governor Edwards added that the state would follow the White House’s guidelines on a phased reopening plan with minor exceptions.

“Our phased approach going forward looks very much like the guidelines that came out of the White House that the President issued a couple of weeks ago. There’ll be some exceptions, for example, non-emergency medical and surgical procedures resumed a week ago but they’re not envisioned in the president’s plans until phase one. But that was something we thought was a particular need here in Louisiana for a number of reasons. But for the most part, what we are doing going forward is going to resemble very very closely what the president laid out in his phases approach to reopening,” Edwards added.


The governor stated the Louisiana Workforce Commission will begin processing the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance, a 13-week benefit extension funded by the federal government, by the end of this week. This benefit allows those who have exhausted their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits to receive 13 additional weeks. The governor cited computer programming as a reason that the payments haven’t been processed sooner.

As it relates to regular unemployment benefits, the governor stated “Louisiana’s payment average right now is 87%,” a number that far exceeds many states.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *