Following the first two COVID-19 deaths in the United States over the weekend, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards formed a coronavirus task force, which held its first meeting Monday. Four more people have died in the U.S. since the task force met.
Given the rapid spread of the disease, the coronavirus will inevitably infect Louisiana residents, the governor said in a press conference today.
"The immediate threat to the general population across the country and here in Louisiana remains low, although the risk of exposure is higher now than it was a few days because of community spread," Edwards said.
The governor likened emergency response efforts for the outbreak to those for an approaching hurricane.
“Instead of getting updates from the weather service, we’re getting it from the office of public health," he said.
The state task force is focusing on disseminating the most recent public health information and coordinating testing efforts and precautionary measures across the state.
In addition to its health impacts, the virus is disrupting markets across the world. The governor said the best way to curb the virus’s economic blow to Louisiana is to minimize the spread of the disease as well as the panic surrounding it.
Following the rise in the number of U.S. cases, currently at 90, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions to countries with large outbreaks including China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Worldwide, 90,000 people have been infected and 3,000 have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease resulting from the virus.
At this time, there are no plans to restrict tourism to the state, which receives upwards of 50 million visitors each year. No festivals or conventions have been canceled in response to public health concerns.
Approximately two dozen Louisiana residents have been contained — meaning they were asked to stay home — to ensure they have not been infected. One resident has been tested, with negative results, indicating that Louisiana currently has no known cases of the coronavirus.