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Gov. Edwards talks about coronavirus during Louisiana Health Equity 2020 Summit

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BATON ROUGE - On Tuesday morning, Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at the Louisiana Center for Health Equity's 2020 summit, an annual event headed by community activist Alma Stewart. 

The governor began on a positive note; he highlighted the benefits of Medicaid expansion and mentioned that Louisiana's uninsured rate is lower than the national average. 

But after this Governor Edwards pointed out that officials still have much work to do in the way of health care, especially as it relates to women and children. 

He mentioned improving workplace accommodations for pregnant women and increasing Louisiana's minimum wage.

From there, he delved into a topic that couldn't be avoided, the global spread of novel coronavirus across the world. 

Governor Edwards said, "We are doing everything we can to work with the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal government. But also to learn from our sister states, especially those that have had novel coronavirus."

At this point, the governor offered a brief explanation of why the illness is called the 'novel' coronavirus, saying, "This is not something that I'm an expert at, but ten to thirty percent of all colds are caused by coronavirus. But they're just the ones we're accustomed to dealing with. This one is new. And for about 80% of the people who get it, they're going to report the same kind of symptoms and it's not going to be a terribly significant life-changing event."  

After providing this basic definition of what the virus is, the governor said the CDC now expects community spread within the United States.

To put it simply, this means officials expect cases to crop up in Louisiana.

 "We will have a case in Louisiana," Governor Edwards said.

But he quickly added that the United States is not seeing an outbreak to the degree other countries are experiencing. 

The governor also assured residents that Louisiana is capable of handling an outbreak, explaining that officials have been working on state pandemic preparedness for years and have already implemented a comprehensive plan for such situations. 

Governor Edwards explained that officials have an expanded protocol for testing, which requires those who've traveled to certain parts of the world to submit to testing. 

This protocol also requires that people who go to the hospital and present with symptoms that appear to be linked to coronavirus be tested as well. 

The governor reiterated that as of now, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana.

Click here for more information on Louisiana Center for Health Equity. 

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