Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Louisiana closing in on 200k test goal for May; tracking 'reasonably well' towards phase two

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BATON ROUGE - With four days left in May, Louisiana is close to meeting its goal of testing 200,000 people for COVID-19 this month.

As of Wednesday, 179,369 tests had been completed within the month, leaving 20,631 left to be performed. 

"That's a little over 5,100 tests per day," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "We believe we will make it."

With more testing being done across the state, the data is showing promising signs. The percentage of positive test results remain low. 

Wednesday's 443 new cases were from a group of 6,621 tests, meaning only 6.7 percent of those tested had the novel coronavirus. 

"So, if you have this many test positive but you perform that many tests," Sen. Bill Cassidy said while gesturing to show the gap in tests and positive cases, "Then that means very few people are positive relative to all those tested. That's a good sign. We have lots of good signs."

Along with decreasing numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and patients on ventilators, the percentage of positive tests is one of the many data points Edwards and health officials are looking at when deciding if the state can move to "Phase Two" on June 5. That decision is expected to be announced on June 1. 

"There are so many different things you look at," Edwards said. "So, I'm not going to tell you that we're meeting the criteria. I'm going to tell you that we are tracking reasonably well when you look at the overall numbers for the state."

Friday will mark two weeks since Louisiana moved to "Phase One." A huge spike in cases hasn't been seen during that time. Edwards warns, however, that doesn't mean it isn't possible. 

"There's a lag time of no less than seven days - but 10 days, 14 days - before you see the cases really pick up," Edwards said. "We haven't seen that yet. We do know there was a lot more activity this past weekend, Memorial Day weekend, than there have been at any time since this public health emergency started."

While there could be some cause for concern in the days and weeks ahead, Edwards says, right now, there are no indications of a surge in cases. 

As the state stands to meet its 200,000 test goal, Edwards says Louisiana will continue to test, especially among the vulnerable populations, stressing the importance of using the additional testing capacity in the right places. 

"It is where you can conduct those tests," Edwards said. "How much of it is mobile. How much of it is responding to hotspots. How much of it is going into congregant settings."


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