WATCH: Gov Edwards Announces Phase One Re-Opening To Start Friday
Governor John Bel Edwards announced the state will partially re-open when the current stay-at-home order expires this Thursday, May 14th. Louisiana will move forward with phase one starting on Friday, May 15th. This phase is expected to last 21 days before we can move toward phase two. That announcement is expected on June 1st.
Numbers out today from the Louisiana Department of Health show a continued downtrend of new cases statewide. The number of deaths reported today totaled 2,242. That's an increase of 29 since yesterday. You can read all of the numbers by clicking here.
Today's announcement comes after several days of pressure from legislators and members of the public who want to re-open the economy as the nation works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport are the most densely populated cities in the state and have the highest numbers. Other regions and rural areas of the state have seen an infection rate that is far lower. However, the parish-by-parish approach has not been a part of the Governor's plan.
Phase One of the re-opening plan put out by President Trump and The White House Coronavirus Task Force, says the number of cases and deaths have to be on a 14-day downward trend. Statewide that is mostly true, but when you look parish-by-parish, there is still some growth in the greater New Orleans area (see graph from NOLA.com)
In Acadiana, we have not seen much of a change in recent days. Numbers of cases and daily deaths have essentially plateaued. St. Tammany Parish has seen growth in the last several days in both cases and deaths.
Why not make a parish-by-parish decision?
That is the question the Republican-lead state legislature has been asking. Last week, the House and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill by Erath Representative Blake Migues that would essentially end the statewide emergency declaration and allow local (parish and municipal) leaders to open with safety measures of their choosing. The Governor and state attorneys have never committed to a recovery timeline and say they are relying on the science and the virus itself to make big decisions about reopening.
The political back and forth will no doubt continue in our state for months to come. Rescheduled elections are due to happen in the next couple of months with the presidential election set for November. Data that is gathered every single day is still coming in and the Governor says that is driving his decisions at this time. He talked about the specific metrics he was considering at press briefing on Friday in Baton Rouge.
Opponents of the ongoing shut-down of the State of Louisiana have pointed to the many local small businesses that make up the state's economy. These businesses have had to adapt if they could stay open at all. Personal care businesses are still closed as they have been prohibited from operating due to how close they have to interact with clients. Those businesses along with the support of Attorney General Jeff Landry have urged the Governor to let them reopen with safety standards in place.
The whole COVID-10 crisis has developed on the backdrop of another statewide economic problem: oil and gas. Revenues are down across the board as the industry tries to fight back from its low point back on April 20th when oil traded at negative $30 per barrel.