Number of cases confirmed in Louisiana
State government mandates and recommendations
June 1: Gov. Edwards announced that Louisiana will move toward the next phase of reopening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic on June 5, however, the governor cautioned the public against relaxing while social distancing and other safety measures remained necessary.
"Louisiana is headed in the right direction, but there's still a lot of COVID-19 in Louisiana, it's in every community in the state, so we still have work to do," Gov. Edwards said. "We still have restrictions that must stay in place. We're not going to be fully back to normal for some time, not, likely, until we have a vaccine."
The governor will release details of his next reopening directive on Thursday, July 4.
May 11: Gov. Edwards announced the first phase of reopening Louisiana will begin on May 15th, as the state's COVID-19 caseload had sufficiently mitigated.
Phase one entails reopening churches, salons, museums, zoos, gyms, outdoor malls, restaurants, theaters and casinos at 25 percent customer capacity. Public-facing employees will be required to wear masks, and the public is encouraged to do the same. Vulnerable groups, like the elderly and those with underlying conditions, are encouraged to continue staying home except for essential trips. The first phase will end June 5.
“Because of the Stay at Home order, Louisianans were able to dramatically improve our trajectory, reduce the number of new cases, keep our health care system from being overrun and save lives," Gov. Edwards said in a statement. "It is because of this hard work that I, in consultation with public health experts and business and industry leaders, feel confident that all across the state we can move forward with entering into Phase One."
May 4: Gov. Edwards initiated his "Open Safely" program to reopen Louisiana amid the coronavirus epidemic.
The governor announced that businesses and churches could register at https://opensafely.la.gov/ to learn more about the safety protocols they would have to implement in order to operate as the COVID-19 pandemic continued.
“In order for us to move forward and open businesses as safely as possible, it is important that clear guidance is available. This website will help businesses and churches better understand which phase will allow them to resume operating and then put safe practices in place such as social distancing and encouraging their customers and members to wear facial coverings,” said Gov. Edwards said.
The website also contained a complaint form for businesses not in compliance.
April 27: Gov. Edwards extended Louisiana's stay-at-home order to May 15, two weeks longer than originally mandated, as the coronavirus crisis continued to take lives in the state and nationwide.
"This is not the news I had hoped to deliver," Gov. Edwards said. "We looked at the data. My hope was to take bigger steps toward reopening."
The governor said some businesses could reopen for curbside pickup on May 1, and resturants could open outdoor areas, but without table service, on the same date. Masks were required for all workers in the state.
Gov. Edwards said he did have hope for reopening in mid-May.
"We are moving in the right direction and by taking the stay-at-home order seriously, we are well on our way to entering the next phase of re-opening," the governor said. "We’re much closer to phase 1 than we would be, obviously. I hope everyone takes these next two weeks to adjust to the new normal, and to make or buy a face covering. Remember, a mask protects those around you."
April 24: Gov. Edwards announced a $500,000 allocation for the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce to determine the reasons behind and solutions for the racial disparity in COVID-19 fatalities, which affected African American residents of the state at higher numbers.
"The disparity in deaths is especially worrisome, and we need to do everything we can to determine why this is happening. African-Americans make up approximately 33 percent of our population yet account for nearly 60 percent of the deaths from this virus," Gov. Edwards said.
The funding would be applied toward research and campaigns to increase health care awareness.
April 20: Gov. Edwards announced that some medical and dental procedures would resume in Louisiana starting April 27.
The procedures allowed would have to be necessary, time sensitive or preventing further complications of a chronic condition. Facilities conducting these procedures would have to have COVID-19 symptom monitoring or testing available, personal protective equipment (PPE) stocked for at least five days and social distancing between doctors and patients.
“Health care facilities play a critical role in responding to COVID-19 and helping people be their healthiest,” Gov. Edwards said. “We are quite some time away from returning to normal but this is a step in the right direction.”
April 15: State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry issued an order allowing pharmacists to in Louisiana order and administer COVID-19 tests throughout the public health emergency.
April 14: Gov. Edwards postponed upcoming Louisiana elections as the state continued to grapple with COVID-19. The June 20 primary elections were pushed to July 11, and the July 25 elections were moved to August 15.
April 10: Gov. Edwards announced a new Health Equity Task Force would conduct research on the disproportionate number of African Americans affected by Louisiana's COVID-19 crisis.
“We know that right now 70 percent of our deaths in Louisiana from coronavirus are African Americans. This is a disturbing trend and one that deserves our attention, which is why we are engaging a group of leaders right now while the crisis is still ongoing,” Gov. Edwards said. “When we talk about health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The great thing is that the findings and recommendations made by this Task Force will help everyone better access quality care and improve health outcomes. It will also leverage our research capabilities and intellectual brainpower in a collective manner to tackle this daunting issue. I am asking our universities and research institutions to lead this effort.”
The task force would assure all communities in Louisiana receive accurate coronavirus spread prevention information and acquire adequate testing capabilties, among other directives.
April 8: Gov. John Bel Edwards urged Louisiana residents to follow stay-at-home orders during the weekend despite Easter Sunday in order to prevent further COVID-19 spread.
"There was no Easter exemption from the stay-at-home order," he said. "There was no Easter exemption from the 10-person limit. Because the virus is not going to honor that. The virus is very much in control. "
April 7: The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) extended businesses closures and suspensions of elective surgeries and dental procedures until April 30 in response to the continuing coronavirus epidemic in the state.
April 6: Edwards reported new COVID-19 hospital admissions were starting to trend downward in Louisiana, but hospital admissions overall were still increasing.
"The fear is that I'm telling people that, and they're going to say, 'Oh, task at hand is accomplished and we can go back to doing whatever it is that we normally do and behaving as we normally do,'" he said. "That is exactly the wrong answer, and I say that because if we started to flatten the curve, it's only because of the mitigation efforts. It's only because of the social distancing and the improved hygiene practices."
April 3: In an effort to encourage state residents to adhere to social distancing measures, the governor and Louisiana health authorities reported the state was on track to reach 2,500 new daily hospitalizations by mid-May.
“There are increasing efforts across the country to understand the impact of social distancing, school closures, stay-at-home orders, and other mitigation measures as we strive to flatten the curve and slow the spread of this virus,” Edwards said. “What we are seeing is that many Louisianans are taking this seriously. Unfortunately, there are still others who are not, and perhaps it is because we have not fully impressed upon all of our citizens the serious consequences of not staying at home.”
During a news conference Friday, he displayed a graph that projected the effects of a variety of measures, including continuing as the state currently was and following social distancing orders more strictly.
"We all have the power to determine the path we end up on. We are not strangers to hurricane maps and projections in Louisiana. In some ways, this graph is no different. Like projected paths of a hurricane, these curves show different potential paths of coronavirus in Louisiana,” he said. “Importantly, unlike a hurricane, we have the ability to redirect the path of this virus.”
April 2: Gov. Edwards extended Louisiana's stay-at-home order to April 30 in response to the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases statewide.
"It is absolutely critical that each Louisianan take this stay-at-home order seriously. Act as if your life depends on it -- because it does," he tweeted.
April 1: Gov. Edwards advised Louisiana residents to brace for the possibility that grappling with COVID-19 in the state could mean long-term disruptions that last beyond the end of the month.
"I think that people should start trying to prepare themselves in their minds that it's going to be a long time before we're back to normal," he said. "Even after the most restrictive measures are lifted, we don't know yet whether there's a seasonality to this virus."
He said Louisiana residents should follow stay-at-home orders to help ease the state's rapid pace of cases and hospitalizations, which has led the state to be in second place for per-capita deaths from COVID-19.
"There is not a pretty picture for the country, there is not a pretty picture for state, but it doesn't have to be as ugly," he said. "We have to have better compliance of these mitigation measures over the next 30 days. We can decide whether we're going to have fewer deaths or more. ...These next 30 days will be critical."
The governor said the state was on track to reach ventilator capacity by April 6, but Louisiana was able to get 150 of the machines from the national stockpile and was expecting more, depending on data provided to federal authorities. State authorities were also looking for ventilators through the Department of Defense and tier-two and EMT facilities, which hold other types of ventilators not normally used in intensive care units (ICUs).
He further emphasized that the public could help by staying indoors to "slow the spread," as "about a third" of people with COVID-19 would need ventilators.
"There is no reason to think that Louisiana won't look like Italy," Edwards said. "I know that's a hard, bitter to swallow because that picture is rather gruesome, is not what we're accustomed to."
March 31: Edwards said he planned to extend Louisiana's stay-at-home order until "at least April 30." He said the proclamation would be signed by Friday.
March 28: The governor announced a website where volunteer health care workers could sign up to help Louisiana with COVID-19 treatment efforts. Volunteers could visit https://covid-19lavolunteers.org/ to begin an application.
March 27: Gov. Edwards reported the state's top priority was medical surge, followed by social distancing, and the need for medical equipment was getting crucial, considering the state's expected caseload.
"Under current modeling, we would run out of ventilators sometime around April 2 or April 3 in region 1 down around New Orleans for patients who need ventilators," he said. "Just to put into context to people how hard it is to acquire new ventilators, we have put in orders for 12,000 ventilators ... and to date, we have received exactly 192."
He reminded the public that hospital crowding also affected all people who needed to visit the hospital.
"I'm asking everyone to do what they can, to be a good neighbor," he said about social distancing.
The governor also reported the state didn't intend to close any roads in response to COVID-19.
March 25, 2:30 p.m.: As COVID-19 cases continued to surge in Louisiana, the governor urged residents to continue to stay at home to avoid overwhelming the health care system.
"We're going to have to stick to these measures as long as it takes to pay off so we don't present more cases to hospitals than they have a capacity to care for," he said. "Our efforts will be in vain if people don't do their part and follow the stay-at-home order."
The governor also appeared on CNN on Wednesday, where he cited recent Mardi Gras celebrations as part of why Louisiana was having a large number of COVID-19 cases.
"There was not any suggestion by anybody ... that Mardi Gras would pose a risk to public health because of coronavirus," he said.
March 24: Edwards requested a major disaster declaration for Louisiana in response to the state's rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases, giving a way for federal agencies to help the state fight the pandemic.
During a newsconference Tuesday, the governor urged Louisiana residents to stay at home to ease the burden on health care resources.
"You can't fix what you didn't do yesterday, or the day before, but starting right now and going forward, everyone has to do their part to reduce the spread of this particular virus," Edwards said. "If we can preserve our precious health care resources so that they're able to provide care for each of us if and when we need hospital care, then that is clearly what we are trying to do."
March 22: Gov. Edwards issued a stay-at-home order, which ordered all nonessential businesses close. The nonessential businesses included nail salons, entertainment venues, and any mall stores that did not have an outdoor entrance.
Essential workers who were allowed to conduct business included health care professionals, farmworkers, and utilities industry employees, among others.
March 19: Gov. Edwards asks President Donald Trump for federal assistance during a conference call with all state governors.
March 16: The governor makes an official statement on social distancing in Louisiana, which effectively closes casinos, bars, and movie theaters, and prohibits the gathering of 50 people or more. It also says restaurants can stay open, but only offer delivery, drive-thru, and takeout options.
Edwards places the mandate in effect through April 13, though it is to be reevaluated a week prior.
March 31: Gov. Edwards reported that Louisiana caseload numbers might reflect increased testing.
"The number of cases that came in today could be that a huge number of these tests came from private testing," he said. "It may be a logjam of tests that flooded in at one time. Still have to figure out how that affects the overall trajectory."
Within hours of opening on Friday, March 20, two testing sites in New Orleans ran out of COVID-19 tests. Both sites were given materials for 100 tests.
Health officials say test results could take anywhere from 3 to 5 days.
April 15: Gov. Edwards issued an order closing Louisiana schools for the remainder of the school year, though remote learning would continue.
“But, I want to be clear about something: This isn’t the end of learning, it’s just the end of students physically going to school campuses for the remainder of the semester," the governor said. "Remote learning will continue and, we will all work together to make sure that our students do not fall behind academically. In addition, we expect that school systems will continue to provide nutrition and meals for students.”
April 13: Gov. Edwards announced he planed on closing schools for the remainder of the school year, though distance learning would continue.
March 24, 2:35 p.m.: Gov. Edwards confirmed that schools were not closed until the end of the school year as of yet and that they were still set to reopen on April 13.
The Louisiana Department of Education declared that as of Friday, March 13, schools should offer "complete distance learning" and may continue to provide meals or other essential services. Instructional minute requirements have been temporarily suspended.
The department also said the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would report directly to the governor and legislature for further instructions regarding "grading, promotion, and graduation."
Public schools K-12 are closed from Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 13. Ascension Public Schools are permitted to continue online education.
Colleges and universities have transitioned to online learning.
Other closures and updates
April 6: Gov. Edwards said health care workers' efforts and extra supplies, such as 753 new ventilators, were helping Louisiana contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We bought ourselves more time that allows us to continue to be able to surge our medical capacity and continue to flatten to curve," he said. "And all of this stuff works in concert, so we have to continue to do everything we've been doing to have the best possible outcome. The data points that we've been seeing are only going to become a trend if we continue."
April 2: Edwards spoke about Louisiana's high death rate from the disease in a news conference Thursday.
"It is true ... that we still have more than our fair share of people dying, and that is likely because we have more than our fair share of people who have the comorbidities that make them especially vulnerable ... like diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension, obesity," he said. "But we also have a lot more COVID-19 in Louisiana than we thought up until now, and that's what the last 3 days of test results has, I think, unequivocally showed."
April 1: Louisiana state authorities launched a small-business assistance program that would provide loans of up to $100,000 to business with fewer than 100 employees that were impacted by the coronavirus epidemic.
March 30: Gov. Edwards reported the state would receive its first shipment of ventilators from the federal government's national stockpile. The shipment would include 140 ventilators, after the state had ordered 5,000 from the federal government.
"We don’t yet know when they will arrive in state or exactly what type of ventilators they are. But I very much appreciate this support," he tweeted.
The governor also reported that Louisiana was receiving periodic personal protective equipment (PPE) shipments, and he thanked the federal government for its assistance.
March 29: Gov. Edwards announced the state had built an overflow medical facility of 1,000 beds in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
"While we are going to be prepared for surge capacity in the event that our hospitals lack the beds to take care of individuals who are afflicted with COVID-19, it is my hope and my prayer that we will not need them," he said.
The governor said Louisiana had still not received ventilators from the federal government's stockpile. But he reported he had spoken to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor, and he hoped the state would receive supplies soon.
"We have yet to be approved for any ventilators from the national stockpile," he said. "I do have some hope and expectation that that will change."
The governor reported that throughout the previous month, his administration had ordered about 12,000 ventilators, including 5,000 from the national stockpile, but the state had only received 192 thus far.
"We're not doing nothing as we wait, and I want to assure people of that," he said.
March 28: Gov. Edwards reported the state would run out of ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients soon.
"We have case growth that’s on a trajectory right now that puts us in grave danger in about a week, 10 days not having the ventilator capacity we need to render the best medical care," he said. "There are only so many ventilators in the world, and they can only produce so many at a time."
He emphasized social distancing as a way to prevent burdening the health care system, and he further warned Louisiana citizens to "slow the spread."
"Just because, under the order, you can go to the store, you can't go to the store every day," he said. "And not everybody in your household needs to go to the store when you do. You oughta be leaving the house once every 3 or 4 days ... we need to make sure we slow this spread, minimize contacts."
March 27: Edwards reported that Delta Air Lines would provide free flights to health care workers who volunteer to help the state.
March 26: The governor said the federal government was sending hundreds of beds, a 60-person health care team, and a CDC epidemiology team to the state to help with COVID-19 efforts.
March 16: Edwards closed all bars, casinos, movie theatres, and gyms. His mandate also restricted restaurants to takeout, delivery, and drive-thru orders only until April 13.
Antoine's, a staple restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans that has been open for 173 years, has closed indefinitely.
HealthEquip App: Links PPE donations to local facilities in need
Keeping Calm Through COVID-19 Hotline: Call 866-310-7977