BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana just entered Phase 1 of reopening on Friday, May 15, but Governor John Bel Edwards is already eyeing the start of June for when the state could potentially enter Phase 2.
The governor says he’s optimistic the state will make it to Phase 2 of the White House’s guidelines for reopening by the tentative date of June 5.
“Well I’m optimistic, but I know we have to look at the data,” said the governor.
It all hinges on whether Louisianans do their part, though, to stop the spread.
"If the people of Louisiana will continue to social distance, wear their masks, engage in good hygiene, then there’s no reason why we can’t continue to see improvements in our cases, even as we open up more businesses and houses of worship to more people, and so forth,” said Edwards.
The governor says officials will make the decision by looking at COVID-like symptoms being reported to emergency rooms across the state, the number of COVID-19 cases, testing, and hospitalizations.
“The timeline that we've set forth is to get the data over the next two weeks,” said Edwards.
Some highlights of Phase 2 of the White House’s plan include:
- All vulnerable individuals should continue to stay home
- Employers should still encourage tele-work
- Schools and organized youth activities can resume
- Bars may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy
- Large venues can operate under moderate physical distancing protocols
- Visits to senior care facilities should remain prohibited
“When we can relax those [nursing home] restrictions, I’m not sure. I don’t believe that the federal government through the CDC has recommended that we relax those rules yet, and there’s still a lot of COVID-19 out there," Edwards said.
This comes as the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has started listing the number of cases and deaths at each nursing home in Louisiana.
As of Monday, May 18, 987 deaths are reported, and those deaths come from 126 nursing homes out of the 278 reporting in the state
“When you see it [coronavirus] in a nursing home, where you know that the people there, by definition, are vulnerable because of their age, because of co-morbidity, and in most cases because of both. So obviously it’s one of the things you’re concerned about,” said Edwards.
The governor is expected to make his announcement on whether Louisiana is ready for Phase 2 on June 1. That way, businesses that have been closed will have time to prepare.
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