Apr 6, 2020
Gov. John Bel Edwards LA Coronavirus Briefing April 6
Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana held a press conference today on COVID-19. Louisiana remains one of the largest hit states in America, but Edwards said there’s evidence the curve is flattening. Full transcript here.
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Dr. Cohen: (00:00)
Protection. But for the rest of us, cloth coverings can play a role in controlling the spread if they are used properly and in combination with other tried and true things like washing your hands, wiping down surfaces. If used incorrectly, face coverings can expose someone to more germs rather than less. The very best evidence on reducing the spread of the virus is to social distance and stay home. So please help us to continue to save lives by staying home. I’m going to turn it over to director Bayberry and then we’ll take your questions.
Director Bayberry: (00:41)
Thank you, Dr. Cohen. Good afternoon. Today is day 28 of the state emergency operations center activation for the COVID-19 response. 64 counties have activated their local emergency operation centers, 99 counties in the Eastern band of the Cherokee in-
John Bel Edwards: (01:02)
To thank him on behalf of all the people of Louisiana for their generous contribution to our state. So we bought ourselves more time. That allows us to continue to be able to surge our medical capacity and continue to flatten the curve. And all of this stuff works in concert, and so we have to keep doing everything that 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. So the mitigation measures, the stay at home order, the hygiene, social distancing, all very, very important. So now we have to keep it up. It’s not the time to become lax and to ease up, and the surgeon general has warned, not Louisiana so much, but the entire country, that this is going to be a really critical week.
John Bel Edwards: (01:55)
It’s going to be a difficult week when we see cases and deaths and so forth. So we have to stay focused on this. As for the question of whether we have actually peaked, it’s obviously too soon to know for sure. Even Dr. Deborah Berks this morning on the white house call noted that weekend data is sometimes not as clear as what you get during the week. And so all around the country, the number of cases that were reported yesterday and the number of deaths that were reported yesterday are abnormally low. And that was born out by the fact that we reported more today than yesterday as well.
John Bel Edwards: (02:35)
So we don’t quite yet have enough data, but it looks like things might be moving in a positive direction. So we should be looking at this data very carefully for the next several days to come. And if we go ahead and put the second graph up there, I want to show y’all why it’s important that we practice social distancing and good hygiene and why it is that we have the mitigation measures in place, the stay at home order, and we’ve closed businesses and so forth, all of which are very difficult things to do. And we know we’re asking people to sacrifice.
John Bel Edwards: (03:15)
But this is data that comes from Johns Hopkins, and the calculations are done by Dr. Gary Wagner of University of Louisiana Lafayette. And what it shows is that half of the top 20 counties, and of course we’re the only state that doesn’t go by counties. So it’s parishes here. But half of the top 20 counties/parishes in the country, in the nation with respect to COVID deaths per 100,000 residents, half of those are our parishes. St. John de Baptiste, Orleans Parish, St. James, West Baton Rouge, Jefferson Parish, Plaquemines, St. Charles, Allen, St. Bernard, Iberville. Two days ago, six parishes were on this list. So obviously we have a significant problem here in Louisiana. We’ve known this for some time now. And this bears it out, and it also reinforces the need to continue to do the things that we are doing except to do them actually better, to have more compliance and not less.
John Bel Edwards: (04:25)
With respect to the information that we are sharing with you all, we’re going to start showing more COVID-19 deaths on our dashboard at Louisiana Department Of Health. Starting today, we’re going to share aggregated data on race, the date of death over time and underlying conditions. All this will be on the dashboard. That’ll be updated not every day but once each week. And you can see this at ldh.la.gov. And this is continued proof of our efforts to be as transparent as we can be about what the situation here is in Louisiana on the ground, and that we want also to be as timely as we can be with the information that we provide to you all. Disturbingly, this information is going to show you that slightly more than 70% of all the deaths in Louisiana are of African-Americans. Almost, I’m sorry, slightly more than 70%. And so that deserves more attention and we’re going to have to dig into that and see what we can do to slow that trend down.
John Bel Edwards: (05:34)
Hypertension is the leading underlying condition now for people who have died in Louisiana. And so for all these reasons, we have to continue to work this as hard as we can, be patient, be focused, be resolute. We’re not far behind New York and New Jersey in terms of per capita cases. We make projections to help us plan and allocate resources because we have to be prepared and we have to be prepared for the worst case scenario that is feasible. But we only get the worst case if people don’t do what they’re being asked to do. And that is to make sure that they’re staying at home. Don’t go out unless it’s absolutely necessary. Minimize your social contact. Practice good hygiene and social distancing.
John Bel Edwards: (06:24)
If you’d put up graph number three please. So New York is not on this. This is a chart that was shown to us today by the vice president. And so the top line there is New Jersey, the green line underneath that is Louisiana. And so you can kind of see where we are as a state relative to all the others. And the reason New York isn’t up there is because it is so much higher, both in terms of the number of cases and its per capita case count, that they’d left it off this particular one. But we’re number three in the country. And what we need to see is you can see that this crook, we need to actually see that turn flat and then over time come down. And that’s exactly what we’re looking to do. In the call I had with the vice president yesterday, I was able to thank him for the 20 ventilate, I’m sorry, the 200 ventilators that were sent from the national stockpile. That decision was made Friday night, and they actually arrived in our warehouse over the weekend.
John Bel Edwards: (07:33)
I also thanked the president for the federal testing sites that we had in New Orleans and Jefferson, two in New Orleans, originally one in Jefferson. The two in New Orleans were since combined because they played a big part in our ability to really ramp up our testing and to know more about the disease in Louisiana and how it was spreading. And those sites were scheduled to be closed on April the 10th, by this Friday. He told me that if we wanted to keep them open, all I needed to do was make that request, and so I really appreciate that and we do intend to keep those open.
John Bel Edwards: (08:16)
Another important update is that the New Orleans Convention Center medical monitoring station opened today. There are currently 23 COVID patients there. So basically, it’s one of those wings if you were there or if you saw it on TV. What we wanted to do is we want to make sure that we opened it, a soft opening if you will, so that we could test the systems and make sure everything is working appropriately before we take a lot more patients, and so we have 23 patients there presently. This is a step down facility, so it’s not where anyone can go as a hospital to present with symptoms. If you’re going to go there, you’re going to be transferred there from another hospital. And so nobody should be walking up to that hospital to get care and nobody should be presenting that hospital to visit with a patient either because you’re not going to be allowed to visit.
John Bel Edwards: (09:19)
And the purpose of it is to allow our tier one hospitals to more frequently rotate their beds and to get people out of the hospital sooner than they otherwise would. And this was another measure that we’re taking to try to surge our medical capacity. A note about face coverings because I know that this over the last few days has become an area of interest to a lot of people. As you should know by now, the CDC recommends that people wear a nonmedical mask when they leave home to protect each other from COVID-19. And what you’re really doing for the most part is you’re protecting others from yourself should you have it.
John Bel Edwards: (10:03)
But if the others are actually wearing a mask, then they’re protecting you. And typically you don’t need to do this if you’re out exercising and you’re going to be a long distance from other individuals. But when you’re making those essential trips to the grocery store or to the pharmacy or to the bank or to get gas and you’re just going to have to be closer to other people than is recommended, then that is the scenario under which you would want to have a mask on.
John Bel Edwards: (10:31)
And it is still not recommended that you use an N95 mask, which remain in short supply for our doctors and nurses. We need to make sure that they get the medical masks, whether they’re N95s or surgical masks, and individuals can use cloth coverings that are relatively easy to manufacture at home. And I want to thank the attorney general. He brought me a pretty one today that’s got the Louisiana seal on it. So I really-
John Bel Edwards: (11:03)
Got the Louisiana a seal on it, so I really appreciate that. Now obviously I’m not currently wearing a mask because I’m here talking to you all, but if and when I need to go out in public, let’s say I’m going to go and look at a facility that we’re going to be standing up as a medical monitoring unit or something like that. You will see me in a mask and I think Alex has decided similarly to wear mask in that situation. Now please don’t think that the mask means that you don’t have to follow the social distancing guidelines or the hygiene because you do. This is just one additional measure that you should be taking. Over the weekend we began sending mass texts with all of these updates. If you didn’t receive the updates and you want to, you can sign up by texting LACOVID to 67283, LACOVID to 67283.
John Bel Edwards: (12:06)
Obviously this part of the year is going to look different than it has in the past. We’re in Holy week and we’re going to have Easter Sunday and I think this is when typically there’s the most demand for crawfish and you’re having the crawfish balls and block parties and all those sorts of things. And I understand that this is not just different, it’s upsetting to a lot of people. I appreciate that. This is a different for me and my family as well.
John Bel Edwards: (12:37)
I’m just encouraging people to be patient and look at the big picture and let’s make sure that we do what we have to do now so that we can all get together safely, just as soon as possible. It is important that we put the health and safety of our neighbors and our families and our of ourselves first right now by staying home. We can still find ways to worship and I will do that as well. You can still have that big Easter dinner at home, but you stay home and save lives and there’s not anything more Christ-like than that.
John Bel Edwards: (13:13)
So in closing, I know that a lot of people are feeling some anxiety, like they’re not in control of things right now. One of the things that we like to do in Louisiana to come together and a experience we can share and actually relive again, will be the Saints beating the Atlanta Falcons. That’ll be on tonight. You will recall this game, this was the first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. It’ll be on tonight on the ESPN, and so I encourage people to watch that. In conjunction with the event, and if you are able and you see fit, I would encourage you to consider donating to the Gayle Benson Community Assistance Fund through the Greater New Orleans Foundation. And that fund is providing assistance to the New Orleans Service Industry during this time, which is obviously one of the areas of our economy, among many, that are really suffering right now. So you can do this by visiting gnof.org/benson.
John Bel Edwards: (14:18)
So join me, I’ll be home watching the game tonight and I’d ask you all to join me. Now I’m going to ask the attorney general to come up and share some news with you all. At the conclusion of which, what I’d ask you to do if you have questions about the initiative that he’s going to talk about, go and address those to the attorney general and then following that, then I’ll take your questions and Alex is here to take your testing questions as well.
Jeff Landry: (14:47)
Thank you, Governor. Glad to know my dad has something to do tonight. I know he’ll be watching the Saints.
Jeff Landry: (14:53)
You know, again, I want to thank the Governor for giving me an opportunity to come here and for working with me on what we’re about to announce. The people in Louisiana should know that all of their elected officials are working on their behalf and all are working to keep them safe. And in that I’ve been committed to fighting and winning this epidemic, and I continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Governor, the President, and all our healthcare officials as we work to help in the spread of COVID-19. I also want to thank, as the Governor did earlier too, I healthcare providers, our doctors, our nurses and everyone who is supporting them as well because working together is the best way to beat this.
Jeff Landry: (15:46)
In order to combat this invisible enemy that has taken the lives of some of our citizens, halted our economies, and turned our livelihoods upside down, we must be willing to use all available tools at our disposal. To that end, a week ago, I had announced a donation of 400,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets given to the State of Louisiana by Amneal Pharmaceuticals. This medication is being used by doctors in Louisiana right now to try and help treat COVID-19 patients.
Jeff Landry: (16:20)
I can report to you today that this medication through the hard work of pharmaceutical distributor Morris & Dickson of Shreveport has already delivered to nearly a hundred tier one locations around Louisiana. The donation was secured timely and it coincided with the approval of a clinical study by the LSU Medical School to determine whether or not hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment against COVID-19. Their clinical actually includes two parts. Part one was the treatment of patients infected by the virus and part two is to determine whether or not there existed a prophylactic treatment to inoculate our first line medical providers. I appreciate the LSU Medical School Dean, Dr. Steven Nelson’s kind words in thanking Amneal and ourselves for securing this donation.
Jeff Landry: (17:18)
Today the Governor and I actually making this announcement together because to treat patients infected with COVID-19 and utilizing hydroxychloroquine, the drug must be coupled with azithromycin or more commonly known as Zithromax. As this medication continues to show some promising results around the world, the demand for the drug becomes great. As supplies diminish, our ability for us here in Louisiana to benefit from any of the effects of its treatment could become jeopardized.
Jeff Landry: (17:53)
I would like to note that these drugs are really not experimental drugs in and by themselves. Each of these drugs have been on the market for quite some time. Of course used to treat other medical conditions and have been approved by the FDA and medical providers for those use. Last week, my Chief Deputy Bill Stiles and I contacted Teva Pharmaceuticals, a manufacturer of both hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax in its generic form, to discuss the ability of the State to access these drugs for as our infection rate rose. Because Teva is a named plaintiff in our ongoing opioid litigation, I not only sought out the consent and consult of the Governor. I asked for his further assistance in helping to secure what we’re about to announce. So I want to thank him for his help.
Jeff Landry: (18:50)
Today, we are announcing that we have secured an additional medication from Teva Pharmaceuticals who has made available 8,000 Z-Paks and an additional 75,000 hydroxychloroquine tablets. I want to caution everyone that it is important to remember that these drugs don’t represent a silver bullet or a magic wand. However, many medical doctors have chosen to prescribe these drugs to relieve symptoms of the virus in some patients in some cases, allowing the recovery of these patients without the use of a ventilator or hospitalization. That is important. Why? Because any positive results in a patient by these drugs, whether the incremental or significant, could potentially allow our ventilator needs to decrease, or the capacity of ventilators that we have to be more readily available.
Jeff Landry: (19:56)
Again, while these drugs are in an experimental phase, it is our hope that the access to these drugs now will allow both LSU’s clinical study to continue and patients in Louisiana to have some hope of relief as their local doctors choose whether or not to utilize these prescriptions.
Jeff Landry: (20:19)
Additionally, I’d like to make another announcement or note today. Some people had contacted us to look at the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order where he granted immunity for doctors and healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19. For those in the healthcare field, I would like you to know quickly about our existing law. This is something the Governor and I discussed this morning as well, and we both as lawyers, not doctors agree with. Should a doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax to a patient in Louisiana in connection with the current COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with FDA’s clinical approval, that doctor’s action would likely fall within the immunity statute that we currently already have in Louisiana.
Jeff Landry: (21:19)
Of course, I would note that the facts and circumstances surrounding any incident will always determine whether an individual is entitled to immunity, but as a blanket order the immunity statutes that we have here in Louisiana go even further than Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, I will continue to do everything that we can to assist our State’s effort to fight this pandemic in Louisiana. I again want to thank the Governor for helping us secure this medication and because it is going to be one more step in helping to protect us here in Louisiana. Thank you.
John Bel Edwards: (22:01)
If you got questions for that, go ahead and ask him now-
John Bel Edwards: (22:03)
You got questions for that. Go ahead and ask them now. The Attorney General if you don’t mind.
Speaker 2: (22:09)
All of those tablets and antibody had been secured and being distributed now, General?
Jeff Landry: (22:14)
So the 400,000 tablets of hydroxychloroquine were received last Monday and half of those have been distributed to hospitals according to their need. The Zithromax and additional hydroxychloroquine we got an email today that are being packaged, it should be here by tomorrow, no later than Wednesday is what we’ve been told by TIVA.
Speaker 2: (22:43)
Speaker 3: (22:44)
And can you just walk through, you said some of this is involving research at the LSU medical centers. Can you talk a little bit more about what kind of research they’re doing?
Jeff Landry: (22:54)
Yes, and I believe LSU put out a press release over the weekend on this. They received approval for two clinical studies. In those studies, of course, one of them is to actually treat patients that are in university hospitals, right in Shreveport, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. And so they will be using those drugs in a combination on patients as they come in and to determine what the effects of the drugs on the virus.
Speaker 4: (23:32)
Do you know, and maybe this might be better for the doctor, I’ve read a couple articles that because hydroxychloroquine is becoming so much in demand for COVID patients, that lupus patients who deal with them are struggling to get the medication. What do you know about that situation?
Jeff Landry: (23:49)
Yeah, I don’t answering. That’s actually why we’re doing this today. One of the big reasons or one of the great news surrounding the hydroxychloroquine we got last Monday was actually to relieve that supply, right? So the more we get donated by pharmaceutical manufacturers, the more we get into the state actually relieves the ability of the supply of hydroxychloroquine so that those patients who have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis have access to that medicine. I will tell you that in fact, I reported that to the governor earlier today as well. I spoke to a number of large chains and also some distributors here in Louisiana. And I don’t find as far as right now, a huge shortage of hydroxychloroquine. So they should be able to receive their medication.
John Bel Edwards: (24:50)
All right. Thank you. Thank you very much. And thank you Attorney General. This is really important. You will recall that a couple of weeks ago, the pharmacy board thought that they needed to do an emergency room because the demand was outstripping the supply. And there was some concern about whether people with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis would be able to continue to get it and so forth. They ultimately were sending that rule in favor of some guidance because they believed that the supply would catch up. But with the work that he did last week and this week, then it’s going to be even better. And we know that we had doctors across the state of Louisiana who were prescribing Plaquenil, which is the name for hydroxychloroquine before these announcements really came out of Washington. And so this is a treatment that doctors were doing. And so it’s important that they have the ability to find this drug.
John Bel Edwards: (25:48)
And so I think it’s a great thing that they’re coming to Louisiana and we are not doctors, we’re not involved in the trial. We’re not here to testify as to the efficacy of the drug as it relates to COVID-19 but we know we have trials ongoing and we know there are doctors who want to use it. And so making it available is exactly the right thing to do. And so I thank you very much, Jeff. Yes sir.
Speaker 5: (26:12)
Governor, I know you’ve seen the model and what University of Washington talked about before that drastically the latest adjustment drastically reduces the number of projected deaths both in the US and the Louisiana. Is that something after consulting with Dr. Billioux? What’s your take on that?
John Bel Edwards: (26:30)
Yeah, well first of all it’s heartening to see models that are gaining currency that show a lower death toll. And we certainly hope and pray that that is the direction that we’re going to go. The numbers in that particular study. I’m sorry, that particular model don’t match up so well with what we’ve already experienced. So we’re trying to reconcile the assumptions that underlie that model with the assumptions that underlie ours. But we do believe that regardless of what the Washington model showed, that we are starting to see improvements in our numbers related principally to hospitalizations and deaths. And as we get more testing online, we’re not such a big outlier anymore. And now we still have more than our fair share of deaths is because we’re not as healthy as we should be. And hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, obesity, all these things are feeding into that. But as we get more tests in and figure out where we really are, how much COVID is in Louisiana, our numbers are really starting to look much more like we would expect them to look.
John Bel Edwards: (27:43)
And so, we’re encouraged by all of that, but we know that if we have a positive trend developing, it is because of the mitigation measures that we’ve taken. And it is because of the work being done in our hospitals, all of which is buying time to allow us to continue to surge our medical capacity. So the message for the day, and I don’t want anyone to mistake this, is that even if we are starting to see improvements in the numbers and we’re starting to develop a trend, this very helpful. We have to maintain what we’re doing with respect to the mitigation to stay at home order, social distancing, all the hygiene practices that we’ve been talking about for literally weeks now. Yes sir.
Speaker 6: (28:25)
Governor, your administration changed its policies surrounding, what it would hand out with information on nursing homes or you previously identified the nursing homes. You’re no longer doing that. Can you explain the policy rationale for doing that and also where you can get that information out and response to a public records request?
John Bel Edwards: (28:42)
Will I give what information out?
Speaker 6: (28:44)
The names of the nursing homes that have coronavirus clusters confirmed there.
John Bel Edwards: (28:50)
I don’t know, but if you submit the request, you’ll get an answer. It may not be what you’re asking for because I’d have to sit down with my executive council and we’ll decide what you would get. And I know that Dr. Billioux has been studying the clusters and was involved in the change in our policy. So I’m going to ask you to come.
Dr. Billioux: (29:11)
Yeah. So as we talked about last week, we had a team from the CDC come down, actually several of those individuals still in state. And part of what the CDC team was helping us do in general was look at our practices as our numbers continue to increase. What could we do to maintain our ability to target those areas where contact tracing and slowing the spread through direct contact are still very important. And also manage areas like the greater New Orleans area where we have just widespread community spread of COVID. And then tailored into that was also our relationship with our clusters with nursing homes and making sure that most importantly we’re getting accurate information that helps us intervene. And what they shared with us as a best practice is essentially moving to to the position we currently have where we’re sharing the number of nursing homes that report one or more cases.
Dr. Billioux: (30:02)
We’re sharing the numbers of cases associated with nursing homes across the state, and then deaths associated with nursing homes across the state. So it gives you a sense of these very special populations that we have a lot of concern about without potentially jeopardizing their willingness to share openly. Increasingly as the epidemic goes on, we are more and more reliant on our nursing homes giving us transparent information and we need them to continue to do that in order for us to give you accurate information. So that’s the position that we took, again, under a guidance and with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Speaker 7: (30:40)
But on that subject, for the nursing homes saying they would not provide that information if you kept releasing their names publicly?
Dr. Billioux: (30:46)
So the nursing homes never said anything like that to me at least.
Speaker 7: (30:50)
So then why was there an assumption that in order to continue to get them to provide the information, you have to be willing to not provide their name?
Dr. Billioux: (30:57)
So again, we moved from a position where we were able to do almost all of the direct outreach in a very timely fashion to now where numbers are coming in and frankly to be timely in addressing clusters. We really needed to continue to encourage that nursing homes, which are obligated under our emergency rule to report, do that in a timely fashion. And in consultation with the CDC, they felt that while it was laudable that we were sharing a lot of information, they were concerned about what would that would mean for the nursing homes sharing as this continues.
John Bel Edwards: (31:34)
Speaker 8: (31:35)
In some states there are reports of racial income disparities when it comes to debts related to this virus, are we seeing any trends here in Louisiana and if so, will that information be made public and where can you find it?
John Bel Edwards: (31:46)
Yeah, so we’re going to have a public facing portion of our dashboard that’s going to talk about as it relates to deaths. I don’t know about the socioeconomic status of the victims, but certainly by race and as I mentioned earlier, we are seeing a disparity because right now slightly more than 70% of all of our deaths are among African Americans who make up about 32% or so of the overall population of our state.
John Bel Edwards: (32:14)
So obviously, this is a big disparity and we’re going to try to figure out what that is attributable to and what we can do about that is as quickly as possible. So yes, you’re going to see that. That will be updated once a week on the dashboard if you go to, and I don’t, I’ll find the-
Speaker 9: (32:34)
LDH. [crosstalk 00:32:36].
John Bel Edwards: (32:37)
LDH, ldh.la.gov. You can find it there. Yes sir.
Speaker 10: (32:46)
Governor, you sounded an optimistic tone sort of on, obviously hospitalizations and bends are both pretty flat over the last couple of days. What does this mean for the projections you’ve been giving out for when New Orleans would run out of ventilators and hospital beds?
John Bel Edwards: (33:02)
Well, obviously what it means is.
Speaker 11: (33:03)
John Bel Edwards: (33:03)
Well, obviously what it means is that data is pushed out in time and we’re not as close to those dates as we thought.
Speaker 11: (33:11)
Do you have specifics you could share?
John Bel Edwards: (33:11)
I don’t have one to share with you right now. Again, we’re modifying the modeling based on the rate of transmission, the growth in cases and it gets complex and I wasn’t a mathematician but I know we’re trying to figure out what our are not is, what is that rate of spread. It appears we’re trending in a positive direction because of the mitigation measures that we’ve undertaken. So for those reasons, along with the fact that as I mentioned before, our hospitals are doing a really good job in keeping some people off ventilator all together who previously would have been put on the ventilator and limiting the number of days on a ventilator for those patients who actually have to have one, and also appear to be reducing the number of days of the average hospital stay.
John Bel Edwards: (34:06)
All of which ties into the modeling to figure out when we’re going to exceed our capacity. These things are changing but they’re changing in a positive way right now. That’s the news that we have for you today. I don’t have an exact date for you.
Speaker 11: (34:22)
Do models still show this week because I know this was the week we were going to run out. Is that still the case?
John Bel Edwards: (34:26)
No. That is no longer the case.
Speaker 11: (34:30)
Speaker 12: (34:31)
Governor, last week you were assured that there would not be DPS checkpoints along the Texas and Louisiana state line. Obviously that changed yesterday. How has that policy change been explained to you and do you feel like Texas officials misled you?
John Bel Edwards: (34:45)
No, I don’t feel like the Texas officials misled me. I had a phone conversation last week with Governor Abbott. We talked about this briefly and I think just about every single day, the head of public safety in Texas is talking to Colonel Reeves, who is the superintendent of state police here and sharing the information with what they’re doing. First of all, commercial traffic is not being hindered at all. It’s my understanding that they’re pulling over every fifth vehicle from out of state going into Texas and it has nothing to do with whether that vehicle is from Louisiana or not.
John Bel Edwards: (35:25)
They’re not treating Louisiana residents any differently and they’re not telling people that you can’t come to Texas. What they’re saying is if you’re going to be here for less than 14 days, we’re asking you to courting for that 14 day period. If you’re going to be here for more than 14 days, quarantine for the first 14 days of your stay here. And as I mentioned before, I’m asking people to stay home anyway. I’m asking people to stay home and not engage in unessential travel. That is what the Texas governor is asking. I’m not going to come up here and pretend to be upset with the Texas governor. I’m just not, but we are communicating and I have not been deceived at all.
Speaker 13: (36:05)
John Bel Edwards: (36:06)
Speaker 14: (36:07)
You talked about some positive trends in some of the numbers. I know modeling showed late last week, for every one positive COVID patient they were infecting a little over two. This is going to be a question for Dr. Vu. I know we’ve seen that number drop a few times during this outbreak, is that still kind of where we stand on one per two?
John Bel Edwards: (36:23)
Okay, so I probably should let Alex do this at the first instance. I’m going to give it a shot and I want you to come up and correct me if I’m wrong. We now believe that several weeks ago, before we were really paying attention, when the virus really got seated into Louisiana and particularly around the New Orleans area, that the initial transmission rates could have been up as high as three. And this was before anybody was paying attention, knew that the virus was here and so forth. We then know, I believe, that the average is 2.4, if you don’t have any mitigation measures into place. And so we think it naturally on its own came down to a 2.4. We started modeling at a 2.0 once we started putting restrictive measures into place and the more restrictive they are, the lower that are not should be dependent upon the degree to which you’re getting compliance.
John Bel Edwards: (37:20)
And so we started modeling at 2.0, hoping we were going to get to a 1.7, which is the next line that we would build into our modeling. And if we have really, really good compliance and I guess universal compliance with our existing stay at home order, meaning only essential workers were out traveling about and people were only leaving home to do the things that were essential and otherwise they were staying at home and all that sort of stuff. You could potentially get to a 1.3. What is safe to say is we thought we were to 2.0 last week. The trends that we’re seeing suggest that were lower than a 2.0 but exactly where we don’t know. And the reason is because the lowest data we have, in terms of test results and so forth, came in yesterday, but it was a Sunday.
John Bel Edwards: (38:10)
If you go back all four weeks that we’ve been doing this, it’s the Sundays where you typically get the fewest reports. And I think that’s a function of the commercial labs because over 90% of our test results now are coming in from commercial labs. And they just have this battle rhythm to what they’re doing. And for whatever reason on Sundays, those reports are lower than they are every other day of the week. But if this data is confirmed over the next several days, that we will know. And I hope that I could come out tomorrow and the next day and say, “Hey, we continue to be on that line that we want to be where we’re flattening the curve.” And ultimately you want to see it to, to start going down too. And again, it’s not just your tests, it’s the hospital admissions and it’s your deaths.
John Bel Edwards: (38:59)
And that’s what I’m particularly paying attention to as are the folks who are modeling this, who are doing a really great job. Look, this is a novel coronavirus. This is new and every day the scientists, the doctors, the mathematicians, they’re learning because they’re not just studying here, we’re studying what’s happening in Italy, in South Korea and in Spain and all of that influences the way that we’re modeling here and around the country. And so I do want people to be patient with us because things change. Things change and they’re changing in part, and we should all be thankful to this because our doctors and our hospitals and our nurses are doing a much, much better job. They are learning, developing best practices and then sharing those with other hospitals and other providers across the state and across the country really and that is helping too.
John Bel Edwards: (39:57)
I would just ask everybody to continue to be thankful for all the doctors and nurses and therapists and all the other providers. And then in this Holy week, let’s lift one another up in prayer. Let’s be patient. Let’s make sure that we’re doing what’s what’s required of us now over the next several weeks so that we can get back to that point sooner rather than later, when we can be together and so forth. Attorney general, thank you very much, Jeff, for being here today. Alex, thank you very much and thank you all. We’ll do this tomorrow about the same time.