Governor hopes to begin 'phase one' of reopening Louisiana in early May
BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards said Thursday that state officials plan to move forward with the first phase of reopening Louisiana in May if it meets criteria laid out by the federal government.
During his daily press briefing Thursday, Edwards said while the state isn't ready to make an announcement, officials are eyeing the possibility of moving into the first phase of the White House's three-step guidance after the current stay-at-home order expires on May 1.
"We're planning to move forward in Louisiana as we are able to meet the criteria, the threshold criteria to move into phase one," Governor Edwards explained. "We're still evaluating whether we will meet the criteria and exactly what that order is going to look like."
Before a state can follow the three-step plan shared by the federal government last week, it must meet certain "gating criteria." That includes a sustained downward trend in cases for two weeks, as well as the ability for hospitals to "treat all patients without crisis care" and a "robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing."
Edwards also emphasized that phase one would be a "very gradual" easing of restrictions and not a full reopening of the state. Per White House guidelines, the first phase calls for employers to "telework" when possible, return to work in phases and minimize non-essential travel.
Though Louisiana's total case numbers eclipsed 25,000 this week, the state has been seeing diminishing increases in case growth. The total number of cases increased by less than 500 day-to-day from Wednesday to Thursday.
"We are not anywhere close to that trajectory we were on a month ago... It was actually leading the world," the governor said. "We are in a much, much better place because of the people of Louisiana."
Edwards expects to make an announcement related to reopening the state early next week.