Edwards: State has “turned the corner” in fight against COVID-19

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Louisiana has “turned the corner” in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a White House press conference with President Donald Trump and other federal officials Wednesday.

Louisiana once led the world in the growth of new coronavirus infections relative to its population. Edwards credited federal and local partners with helping to get the number of new coronavirus cases under control.

“We’ve had a steep learning curve, but we’re in a much better place,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the federal government’s commitment to help Louisiana ramp up to 200,000 COVID-19 tests per month will be critical in reopening more sectors of the state’s economy. The governor’s decision to extend for two more weeks most aspects of his “stay at home” order, which would have expired after Thursday, has been widely criticized by Republicans.

Edwards’s order closed a number of public facilities, including schools, bars and fitness centers, while allowing most retail businesses and firms considered “essential” under federal guidelines to stay open. Restaurants have been limited to delivery and carryout, and offices closed to the public have been allowed to continue back-office functions while respecting social distancing guidelines.

The latest version of Edwards’ order requires employees of a business who come in contact with the public to wear a mask.

“[Edwards] didn’t shut everything down,” Dr. Deborah Birx said Wednesday. “He has a curve like this [showing much slower case growth] with still a significant number of Louisianans working.”

As of noon Wednesday, at least 1,802 Louisiana residents had died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, according to state health officials, who also reported 43 “probable deaths.”

Louisiana reported 27,660 cases since the pandemic began, 17,303 of which are “presumed recovered.” About 160,000 tests have been conducted in the state, officials say.

During the White House press conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced the drug remdesivir has showed promise in reducing the recovery time and mortality rate for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The study results suggested a mortality rate of 8 percent for the group receiving remdesivir versus 11.6 percent for the placebo group, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Fauci did not suggest the drug could cure the illness and stressed that more study was needed.

“This will be the standard of care,” he said.