Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Gov. Edwards Friday news briefing

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BATON ROUGE - As Louisiana and many other states nationwide begin phase one of reopening, some residents are still concerned if it’s too soon.

“We’re aware that this fall could come back. And by the way, I hate to even use that terminology because we don’t expect it to leave us between now and this fall,” Governor John Bel Edwards said during Friday’s coronavirus press conference.

The fear expressed by health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci this week, is a second wave of coronavirus cases in the fall if reopening happens too fast with eased restrictions.

“The degree to which people who are experts are certain it’s gonna happen, it varies depending on what expert that you speak to,” Edwards said.

Edwards says he believes residents and businesses have a big part to play in whether cases will spike again. He has continued to strongly urge residents to wear some sort of face-covering while in public and has made it mandatory for employees interacting with the public to wear masks under 'Phase One' of reopening the economy. 

“Especially when you understand that business owners, I believe, have a significant economic interest in complying because they want their customers to feel safe,” Edwards said.

Doctor Alex Billioux with the Louisiana Department of Health says it’s still difficult to determine where the state will be come fall, considering where we were just a month ago.

“If we go back to the first or second week of coronavirus in the state, I think May 15 was about what the original model said would be peak cases. So, it’s hard to imagine, being here now talking about reopening parts of restaurants and having people go back to some aspects of life outside of their home if I put myself back in those shoes,” Billioux said.

Edwards assures that as the state eases restrictions, they will not ease their focus on COVID-19 in the state. 

“We are not going to let our guard down. We expect testing will continue in a robust fashion all the way through the end of the year. We’re going to be contact tracing,” Edwards said.

But he warns that if the state does have to tighten restrictions again because of another spike, it would be a tremendous second blow to the state’s economy. 

This week, state legislators learned of the $1 billion budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions and the state’s stay-at-home order.

“I hope we don’t have to put any more restrictions back in place or go backward. Obviously that would not be a good thing, but I’m optimistic that won’t happen,” Edwards said.

Edwards says he believes an effective vaccine is needed in order to return to life as we knew it before COVID-19.


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