Governor Edwards prepares Louisiana for potential coronavirus outbreak

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks about his state's preparations for the new coronavirus and about his legislative agenda for the upcoming session on Monday, March 2, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La

Andres Fuentes

Governor John Bel Edwards gladly told the Press Club of Baton Rouge that Louisiana is
free from any reported cases of the COVID-19 virus, but that doesn’t mean the state is
any less prepared for an outbreak.

Edwards said, “(COVID-19) is new and so it is cause for concern. It is not cause for
panic.”

Hours before his press conference, the governor announced the creation of the COVID-
19 Task Force at a Unified Command Group Meeting. The team is made up of key state
and federal officials to deal with an emergency in case one arises.

“It was much like a meeting we would have to deal with an approaching hurricane or
other natural disaster, except the briefings didn’t come from the National Weather
Service. They came from the Office of Public Health,” the governor said.

Edwards also said the Office of Public Health has the ability to administer tests for the
coronavirus within the state.

For about 80 travelers now home from areas combating an outbreak, the office has
them under personal isolation, where they report their own symptoms for a 14-day
period.

Assistant Secretary for Health, Alex Billioux, said, “The idea is, ‘try and stay in your
home. Try and limit your time outside.’ We don’t want them going to work unnecessarily.
So they’re staying home.”

With all the precautions in place, the governor admits there’s some things he cannot
control, especially when it comes to the state’s economy during the worldwide outbreak.
He said, “It’s very difficult at the state level to do things to try and minimize the impact.”
Edwards said Louisiana businesses are already feeling the affects of the virus, with the
Port of New Orleans failing to receive its two cranes due to labor issues in China, where
the initial outbreak started.

However, conventions and other events in the city have not cancelled or altered any
plans, Edwards hopes people continue to wash their hands, keep their distance and
stay home if their sick.

For more information about the state’s efforts toward the coronavirus, visit the Louisiana
Department of Health website.