The gist: In an unusual show of unity, Gov. John Bel Edwards was joined today by Attorney General Jeff Landry to deliver the somber message that the state has two weeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Another familiar face, LSU football coach Ed Orgeron, joined the elected officials for the daily press briefing on the virus quickly spreading in the state.
What you need to know: Louisiana numbers likely to jump substantially. It’s going to get much worse before it gets better, the governor said. “Over the next 24-36 hours, in all likelihood, you’re going to see the number of cases in Louisiana jump tremendously because we’re going to get test results, probably over 1,000 test results,” he said.
Need unemployment? Edwards announced a waiving of the one-week wait for unemployment benefits. That doesn’t necessarily mean those out of work will get a call back right away, but it should help, he said. For small business owners, Edwards has put in a request for assistance from the Small Business Association for disaster loans.
Also, Edwards has suspended all eviction and foreclosure proceedings, but people should still continue to make their rent or mortgage payments.
Health and home: Coach O called out those who still feel the need to go out into the world with a resounding, “Stay home.” Edwards cautioned against stocking up for an apocalypse and mentioned a week of supplies is fine. Buckling down for the next two weeks remains absolutely crucial. Landry expressed support for the governor’s measures to limit gatherings to 50 people, close bars and limit restaurant service. The message from all three: Don’t be a spreader.
Testing access still limited: The governor said the state is “ramping up” its testing capacity, noting drive-thru screening locations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes are expected by the end of the week. Approximately 400 National guard soldiers have been activated, and they will like be working at one of the drive-thru testing sites. The drive-thru service that shut down after less than hour yesterday in Baton Rouge after running out of supplies is back in business.
Rapid expansion: Edwards said the state has opened negotiations with the VA to make use of the three hospitals within the state. Both new bed space and new bed count will come online within the next two to three weeks. The state also looks to identify rural hospitals that need renovations to handle increased numbers and assist them with bringing those much-needed medical facilities up to code as quickly as possible.
A little good news: The LA Wallet app, a digital driver’s license that functions as a valid ID, is currently free in the app store. The app is typically $5.