'We Are In a Race Against Time': Gov. Edwards Issues Stay At Home Order

Mar 22, 2020

Governor John Bel Edwards announced a mandatory statewide stay at home order starting at 5 p.m. Monday March 23, marking the state’s latest and most aggressive social distancing measures intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Edwards is instructing Louisiana residents not to leave their homes except for essential tasks until the order is lifted on Sunday April 12.

“The bottom line is we’re in a race against time when it comes to this coronavirus and its spread across Louisiana,” Edwards said “The mitigation measures that we have in place will not be effective if our people and our businesses  do not actively participate.” 

Under the order, people can still go out to buy groceries, pick up medications from their pharmacy or food from a restaurant offering take-out or drive-through service. 

People can also go outside exercise or walk their pets, but should always practice social distancing, avoid groups of 10 or more, and shouldn’t visit friends or family without an “urgent need.”

The order mandates the closure of all places of public amusement, hair salons, barber shops, malls and stores that provide non-essential services.  Previous executive orders shuttered bars, casinos, restaurant dining rooms, gyms and movie theaters.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell imposed similar restrictions on New Orleans residents on Friday.

Louisiana has more than ten times as many COVID-19 cases than it did one week ago, Edwards said, adding that Louisiana’s number of cases per capita is the third highest in the nation, trailing only Washington and New York.

“In the last two weeks our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world,” Edwards said.

Edwards compared the situation in Louisiana to the early stages of the outbreaks in South Korea and Italy, pointing to a chart showing what started as three nearly identical growth trajectories.

Two weeks into their respective outbreaks, the paths of Italy and South Korea diverged. The number of cases in Italy continued to rise, but South Korea was able to effectively “flatten the curve.” 

Edwards attributed South Korea’s success to a combination of widespread testing, contact tracing and effective isolation measures.

But Edwards described early testing efforts in Louisiana and across the United States as “inadequate in capacity and throughput” adding that, “our mitigation efforts are going to have to be a proxy for testing measures that were insufficient.” 

On Friday, Edwards warned that the state’s health care system could be overwhelmed before the end of the month without help from the federal government to increase capacity.

Edwards did not provide details on how the order would be enforced. 

“If the people of Louisiana demand that we enforce this order before they acknowledge it-- we’re in big trouble,” Edwards said.

A summary of Edwards’ stay at home order can be found here. The full text is available here.