BREAKING: Gov. Edwards Announces Phase One of Reopening State for May 16

Governor Edwards announces steps toward Phase One of the state’s reopening at his May 11, 2020 press conference.

Echoing Mayor Cantrell’s announcement that Phase One of reopening the City of New Orleans would begin May 16, Governor Edwards in his 2:30 press conference today announced steps toward reopening the state at large. 

“After discussing the data with public health experts … we will be moving to Phase One on May 15 – that is this Friday,” the governor said. Governor Edwards will sign the proclamation this Thursday, May 14, to take effect the following day.

Governor Edwards will leave the proclamation in place for 21 days, meaning the state will be in Phase one until June 5, 2020. The public can expect the next announcement to be made on June 1.

According to Governor Edwards, the State of Louisiana has met the White House health criteria for entering Phase One of reopening. The criteria included:

  • A sustained decline in coronavirus hospitalizations
  • A sustained decline in coronavirus cases
  • An increased testing capacity statewide, allowing the state to test 200,000 residents per month.

“I do believe we are striking the right balance,” between public safety and the state’s economic health Governor Edwards said.

Under Phase One, the White House stresses that vulnerable people should continue to shelter in place, and non-essential travel should be limited. Groups should continue to avoid gathering in numbers of ten or more, and individuals in groups should use physical distancing. 

Governor Edwards noted that there are three categories of businesses under the reopening guidelines. The first category are considered “essential,” which have been opened throughout the pandemic. The second category is businesses that will be allowed to open during this phase. These include:

  • Hair and nail salons
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Dine-in restaurants

These businesses may only operate with a maximum capacity of 25 percent, and social distancing practices must be followed throughout.

During Phase One, tattoo parlors, museums, spas, and bars without Department of Health permits must remain closed.

For restaurants, the governor said that tables must be spaced at least 10 feet apart.

As usual, Governor Edwards announced today’s coronavirus numbers. These include:

  • 215 new cases of COVID-19, totaling 31,815 statewide. 
  • 29 new deaths, adding up to 2,242 deaths in total. 
  • 1,310 cases are hospitalized with coronavirus, a decrease of 14. 
  • 157 residents are on ventilators, a decrease of four. 
  • 220,830 tests have been conducted, an increase of 4,958. 

Dr. Alex Billioux, with the Louisiana Department of Health, broke down the regional state health statistics. In the New Orleans area, coronavirus cases are decreasing, total cases are plateauing, and hospitalizations are decreasing. 

In most regions throughout the state, cases are declining, with a few notable exceptions in North Louisiana. 

A breakdown of COVID cases and hospitalizations by region. Courtesy of the Dr. Alex Billioux, Louisiana Department of Health.

“What we see in the Greater New Orleans area,” Dr. Billioux said, is largely optimistic. 

Despite this news, Mayor Cantrell’s reopening protocols differ somewhat from those offered by Governor Edwards. 

Events and venues identified by the city as having “super-spreader” potential must remain closed in New Orleans. These include all large gatherings – such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, and conventions. Houses of worship that do not have spacing or size limits must also remain closed. Fitness centers, casinos, theaters, and bars that require extended, close range, and face-to-face interaction will also remain closed.

“What we are not talking about is a return to pre-COVID Louisiana,” Dr. Billioux said.

You can read the state’s “Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana” plan here.

For information on opening up your business, click here.

You can view the video of the press conference here.

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