Faced with coronavirus cases and pre-Thanksgiving hospitalizations, Governor John Bel Edwards said Tuesday that he will bring Louisiana back to the Phase 2 modified version, closing many bars and instructing most businesses to reach 50% utilization, probably by the end of the year.
The move, which is less restrictive than the previous iteration of Phase 2, occurs when hospital managers sound the alarm that they are on the right track to be flooded with patients soon if trends do not change.
The new restrictions will take effect on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, which officials worry, will raise the virus to unprecedented levels when families and friends gather for personal celebrations.
Under the new rules, the number of gatherings will be 75 indoors and 150 outdoors, meaning a 25% occupancy rate for events. Restaurants, retailers and other businesses are moving from 75% to 50%. Parish bars with test positivity greater than 5% should be close to indoor consumption unless they have a restaurant conditional license, in which case they can operate at 50%.
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Edwards said at a news conference announcing the changes that Louisiana was “in a rough spot.”
“Because of the path we’ve taken … We definitely need to act, and we need to act now,” Edwards said.
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“There is no need to work spells here. Only these restrictions and mitigation measures can stop overvoltage. He added. “If someone had presented me with another option, a better option for flattening the curve, I would have chosen … It doesn’t exist.”
The new restrictions will virtually close bars that do not serve food in East Baton Rouge, Jefferson and most parishes, although the new order will allow them to operate outdoor seating for up to 50 people. According to the Department of Health, only a few parishes – including Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and a few other rural parishes – still have low enough positivity to keep the bars open, although there are those who lose that ability on Wednesday. updated. The positives of the parishes of Jefferson, Lafayette, Caddo and East Baton Rouge exceed 5%.
Live coverage: John Bel Edwards is expected to announce a change in coronavirus restriction at 2:30 p.m.
While the order will be in effect until the end of December, the governor has indicated that the restrictions will remain in place until the end of the year. They start on Wednesday.
The governor said there could be further restrictions on the situation if trends do not improve soon.
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Edwards avoided wading into restrictions on the more politically saturated parts of his restrictions, leaving settings such as churches and football undisturbed. The governor did not touch the Tiger Stadium, where LSU continued to receive tens of thousands of fans – the school can accommodate up to 25% capacity – for home football matches. And the order doesn’t cancel high school football as the teams get into the playoffs. Instead, high school football stadiums can receive 25% of fans in stadiums. Some parishes were able to fill 50% of their stadiums before the new restrictions.
He also left decisions about schools to local tank districts. And the churches will remain at 75% capacity.
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These businesses must adhere to a 50% capacity based on social isolation and mask assignments:
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops
- Casinos and video poker
- Not basic retail
Edwards also encourages business owners to make the most of telecommuting.
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After weeks of avoiding a wave of cases and hospitalizations never seen before across the country, Louisiana has definitely entered the fall wave. New cases per week soared north from 11,000 on Tuesday, 155% more than the 4,300 cases in the same period a month earlier. The percentage of positive positivity — the proportion of positive tests — increased by about 85% over the same period, indicating that cases cannot be explained by an increase in tests.
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The biggest concern for public health officials is that hospital treatments have reached 1,000 for the first time since Aug. 21. At its most recent peak, during a summer wave of infection that prompted the governor to receive nationwide masks and shutters, hospital care reached 1,600. On Tuesday, the number rose further to 1052.
Dr. Joe Kanter, the state’s chief coronavirus response official, has gone through data showing that every region of the state is on an alarming rise in cases, hospital care and other trends.
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“What we see now is as worrying as it once was,” he said. “Every region of the state is currently experiencing very similar growth.”
Kanter said hospital managers have already relayed stories that capacity, especially with staff, is thin. If this trend continues, in addition to COVID-19, officials will not be able to provide timely care for people concerned with health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and other problems.
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And unlike previous seizures, Louisiana’s latest wave comes when the rest of the country sees unprecedented levels of virus. That means hospital workers traveling here from outside the state are unlikely to be available this time, Kanter said.
The White House Coronavir Virus Task Force sent increasingly worsening reports of the surge to Louisiana. This week, the task force stated that “all states and parishes need to flatten the curve” to maintain health capacity, and said “significant behavioral change” is needed to curb it.
When Louisiana returns to modified Phase 2, it writes the following about sports, bars, events, and so on
“Always provide masks to the public, increase physical distance by significantly reducing public and private indoor capacities, and make sure every American understands the clear risk of any interaction from ANY family or friend outside their immediate household, indoors.” said.
Leaders at the Louisiana Hospital have warned that the level of infections is constantly flooding health facilities around the state. Last week, when Edwards and other leaders called on people not to hold big Thanksgiving gatherings, Dr. Christopher Thomas, a critically cared-for doctor at Our Lady of the Lake, said overworked nurses and other health workers stop and the hospital doesn’t have the the ability to survive new waves experienced in the summer.
“We have beds,” Thomas said. “What we don’t have is enough nurses in all the beds in all the hospitals in Louisiana.
Dr. Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, a professor of epidemiology at the LSU New Orleans Center for Health Sciences, said, “Unfortunately, I think it might be a good idea” to introduce new restrictions.
However, Straif-Bourgeois said the restrictions could result in declining returns as more people experience “COVID fatigue” and host gatherings in their homes.
“It’s a big COVID-19 fatigue, and I think it’s very hard to get to people where the incidence of the disease is very high in Louisiana, so there’s a much higher risk of getting and infecting someone,” he said. – People are tired.
“I’m afraid people don’t really think about it anymore.” Holidays are coming, Thanksgiving, Christmas are coming, everyone wants to get together. “
In a letter to news television, Paul Salles, president of the Louisiana Hospital Association, wrote that “while we can build additional beds and recycle hospital floors, it is extremely difficult to find and train caregivers to properly treat patients if there is no established problem. the spread of the virus in our community. “
The restrictions will come when Edwards, the Democrats, continues to confront Republican officials in Louisiana. GOP members of the State House sent him a petition in late October ordering the removal of all Louisiana virus restrictions – which would have allowed bars, restaurants and other businesses to operate at 100% capacity without a mask. The judge found the move unconstitutional and awarded Attorney General Jeff Landry a defeat in court.
Republican state representative Larry Bagley on Monday invited the House Health and Welfare Committee to a hearing to hear parents complain that their children have to wear masks and see their limited sports seasons due to restrictions. Several questioned whether the masks were useful. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and several health experts have repeatedly said that wearing tissue clothing limits the spread of the virus.
Staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this story.