Gov. Edwards: Still too early to determine if state will move to 'phase one' May 16
BATON ROUGE - Louisiana moves closer to May 16 and the possibility of moving to phase one of The White House's reopening guidelines. Across the state, signs are beginning to appear that show there is a good chance of that happening.
"Our numbers statewide are moving in a pretty good direction in terms of the hospital capacity, in terms of the new case growth being smaller than it was previously," Gov. Edwards said.
However, only looking at the state's COVID-19 situation from a statewide perspective won't tell the full story, Edwards warns.
"There may be a couple of regions in the state where maybe they plateaued and maybe they're inching up a little bit in terms of cases and hospitalizations," Edwards said. "That's what we have to continue to look at, but we're going to be faithful to the plan, the guidelines issued by The White House.
That is why Edwards says it is still too soon to determine if Louisiana will reach the requirements to begin phase one on May 16.
"The 14 day period we're going to be looking at hasn't come into focus yet," Edwards said. "We'll be looking at this over the next several days."
What is known is the role of expanded testing and contact tracing in any reopening plans. Louisiana's current plan calls for about 700 employees working as 'contact tracers' throughout the state.
"They then start calling the individual who tests positive and try to figure out, for that time period when the individual who is positive became contagious until that conversation, 'who have you in been close contact with,'" Edwards said.
"They then get those names and contact information, as best they can, then they start calling those individuals. 'Do you have symptoms? If so you really need to go get a test. If you don't have symptoms, understand you may have been exposed to someone and therefore you really need to spend 14 days by yourself.'"
Whether phase one comes May 16 or sometime after, Gov. Edwards says the only way to make sure the economy stays open and cases don't spike is through more testing and contact tracing.
"As we move forward and engage more of the economy and people become more mobile, there's going to be more contact," Edwards said. "Even when we take the precautions like wearing the mask, keeping the six feet distance between yourself and people not in your immediate household. The way you keep a lid on cases...is through testing and contact tracing."
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