BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that he has officially signed an emergency order extending his statewide stay-at-home order until May 14 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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“More than 1,800 people in Louisiana have died from COVID-19,” the governor’s office noted in a statement Thursday afternoon. “And while more than 17,000 people are estimated by the Louisiana Department of Health as being recovered, 10,000 people in Louisiana are still sick, giving Louisiana a high disease burden. And this does not account for the thousands of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases in our state among those not tested. As of Thursday morning, Louisiana was six per capita for cases in the United States.”

Click here for a copy of the order.

“My decision to extend the Stay at Home order was based on sound science and data and the recommendations of multiple public health experts and doctors as the best shot Louisiana has to protect the health of all people,” Gov. Edwards said. “We simply don’t meet the qualifications to move to Phase 1 yet, but all Louisianans should be hopeful that we will soon. Brighter days are ahead for Louisiana, and I am proud not only of our health care heroes and frontline essential workers, but also of our people who have shown extreme strength during this tough time and have largely abided by the Stay at Home order. We will get through this together and resume the celebrations we have had to put on hold when we are able to come together again safely.”

“Let me be clear – many businesses in Louisiana are allowed to open and operate as long as their employees wear face masks or coverings, limit the number of people on premises as outlined in the order and enforce social distancing. Businesses owners will need to review the order to be sure that they understand if their business may be open and how it may operate, if it is. In the coming days we will be providing additional information and tools to help business owners understand the guidance for Phase 1 so that they can protect the health and safety of their customers and their employees.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards statement – April 30, 2020

The governor also noted during his briefing Thursday afternoon that there has been an increase in coronavirus cases in several parishes over the past week, including an 11 percent increase in Caddo Parish.

Edwards reiterated the changes to restrictions that will go into effect on May 15 if the state meets Phase 1 criteria established by the White House coronavirus task force.

The criteria include a decrease in reported symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations for 14 days, and continued expansion of testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks to keep everyone safe. Phase One occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent.

Click here for information for businesses.

Once the criteria for Phase 1 is met, restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without table-side service. Employees of all Louisiana businesses who have contact with the public will also be required to wear masks.

Edwards said more guidance is expected to be released Friday by the Louisiana Department of Health and the state fire marshal’s office.

The latest briefing comes one day after Edwards traveled to Washington, D.C. for a meeting in which President Donald Trump praised Louisiana’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak even as Louisiana’s Republican state lawmakers worked to rally support for a rare legal maneuver that would allow them to overturn possibly some or all of the governor’s disaster orders and proclamations related to the COVID-19 disease. 

Edwards said President Trump and the rest of the task force understood the challenges Louisiana is facing, especially around contact tracing and that the meeting was good for the state.

“Those are the first string of the White House coronavirus task force and to be able to spend that much time with them will prove beneficial,” said Edwards.

He also described the testing process leading up to the meeting, which included a rapid COVID-19 test for himself and Dr. Alex Billoux, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of Public Health. Edwards said there were also several temperature checks throughout the visit.

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