Gov. Edwards and U.S. Surgeon General Urge Caution and Calm

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana will impose restrictions on visiting nursing homes, prisons and jails over the next 30 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

The details will be announced soon, Edwards said during a joint news conference with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams was in Baton Rouge on a visit scheduled before the recent coronavirus outbreak.

“I hope that the people who are out there who are inconvenienced and unable to visit a loved one will understand we’re doing this for the protection of their loved one,” Edwards said.

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Edwards and Adams noted that most people are not at high risk of serious complications from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, but urged everyone to take proper precautions to help protect people who are in high-risk groups, such as older people and those with chronic health conditions.

Adams stressed that people should understand their own risks and those of their organizations, which are explained at, and how those factors should affect their plans.

“Preparing doesn’t mean panicking,” he said.

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To the extent that they can while remaining consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, people should go about their lives as normal, Edwards said. His advice comes amid the cancellation of numerous events as Louisiana enters the spring festival season, which is important to the state’s tourism industry and related businesses.

“If you’re sick, stay home from work,” he said. “If you’re not, go to work.”

Adams praised President Donald Trump’s “bold and aggressive action” combating the spread of the coronavirus, including a 30-day restriction on travel from much of Europe Trump announced Wednesday night. Adams clarified that the restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens, a distinction Trump did not make clear in his national address.

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“Now is not the time to politicize situations,” Adams said, in response to a question about Trump’s statements in recent weeks about the virus and the federal government’s response to it.

Originally, China was the source of most new infections, he said. Now Europe, specifically Italy, is “the new China.”

“We are shifting from a containment posture to a mitigation posture,” Adams said. “We’ve got the coronavirus in our communities. What can we do to lower the impact of it, [and] to slow the spread of it?”

For most people, that includes washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is a useful backup but is less effective and harder to acquire right now, Adams noted.

Adams said public officials should be “really careful when we’re talking about closures.” For example, if you close a school, you need a plan for where the children will go and who will take care of them.

“I felt very reassured by what I heard from the state department of health here in Louisiana about the availability of testing,” Adams said.

At the same time, resources are limited and people who are not sick don’t need to be tested, he added, urging people to contact a health care professional to discuss if testing is appropriate for them.

As of Thursday morning, Louisiana had 14 “presumed positive” cases that had not been confirmed by the CDC, state officials said. “Community spread,” meaning spread of the virus that is not related to travel, is believed to be happening in the New Orleans area.

COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.

Most people who have COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.


Photo by David Jacobs of the Center Square


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