Mar 31, 2020

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards COVID-19 Press Conference March 31

Louisiana Governor Update March 31
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsLouisiana Governor John Bel Edwards COVID-19 Press Conference March 31

Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana gave updates on coronavirus on March 31. He said Louisiana is focusing on expanding healthcare across state as they gear up for worsening case numbers. Read the transcript here.


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John Bel Edwards: (00:00)
Going to have an impact on reducing the rate of growth in these cases. We would actually start to see that in the next couple of days, at least that’s what I’ve been told to expect. And so, these numbers today, especially if they include tests that were administered as many as seven days ago, don’t necessarily tell us that the stay at home order isn’t being effective, but it does tell us that we have no reason yet to believe we are flattening the curve. I hope, I pray and we’re working to make sure that that happens just as soon as possible. Yes, sir, Jeff.

Jeff: (00:38)
You might kind of answered this already talking about the rate, but the 14,000 requesting you have for ventilators, where does that number come from? Where do you believe that you need, right now you’re at 420 patients, I mean that tells you that the problem can get significantly worse.

John Bel Edwards: (00:54)
Well Jeff, as you can imagine, we have an idea how many ventilators that we need across the state. It is in the several thousands. We’ve ordered more than that because you never know which vendor is going to be able to get a supply to send you at any given time. And so we have three vendors that we’ve ordered 2000 each from. We have a couple of vendors where we’ve ordered a thousand each from it. It depends on what we think we might be able to get. And we’ve asked for the strategic national stockpile to send us 5,000. So you add all that up, it’s about 14,000 or so that we’ve put on order.

John Bel Edwards: (01:29)
We don’t need 14,000, but if I knew for a fact that I could get all that I wanted from one vendor, I wouldn’t be ordering from another. And that’s part of the complications that are popping up all over the country as states compete with one another, and with hospitals and other medical providers, and I assume to some degree we may be competing against the federal government, too. But that is the rather disjointed procurement effort that is playing out all across the country right now, which is difficult to navigate through. And I suspect it’s also increasing the prices of these devices beyond what would ordinarily be seen. Yes, sir.

Speaker 3: (02:12)
We understand that East Baton Rouge District Attorney plans to charge the pastor in Central with six counts of misdemeanor for essentially disobeying your stay at home order. Are you concerned by the optics of arresting a pastor right now?

John Bel Edwards: (02:23)
Well, I’m concerned about a lot of things. One of those, not just the optics, because optics by themselves don’t hurt anybody, but the practice of the pastor continuing to engage in services where he had more people in the congregation than he should have under the order by a large measure, by the way, and not practicing social distancing. That that disturbs me too. It is very unfortunate that any leader of any kind of, business leader, elected leader, community leader, faith leader, would choose and make the conscious decision to violate what is a legal order, and one that is imperative for public health. So you know, I don’t like the optics of, and by the way, I don’t know that anybody has been or will be arrested. That may happen. I don’t know what the local authorities are going to do. I think they served a summons on him for violating the order.

John Bel Edwards: (03:30)
And I think that’s all that has happened now. And I’m going to appeal to that pastor and to anybody who, who might also be out there either violating the order, or giving some thought to doing, I’m going to appeal to them one more time. Please stop what you’re doing. In the grand scheme of things, it just doesn’t make sense. And the overwhelming majority of our faith leaders have found other ways to engage with their parishioners, doing it online, through Skype, or Facebook, or all the different means that they have at their disposal today, and I would encourage him to do the same thing. It just only makes sense, and maybe this action that was taken today will be enough to get his attention. I will tell you that the law enforcement authorities in East Baton Rouge Parish have been extremely patient. There have been numerous conversations with this pastor, and they have done everything that they could to try to get him to become compliant before they took this step. Today, maybe this will be the step that actually gets his attention and brings him into compliance. Yes, sir.

Speaker 4: (04:39)
Obviously, going back to those 150 ventilators, a few days ago when you spoke with FEMA, you said you would ask for them to cut Louisiana a piece of the pie. This 150, is this kind of what for the foreseeable future you see the state getting from the feds, and then this morning the New York Governor mentioned looking for PPE and ventilators is like, it’s bidding on eBay basically, and then FEMA comes in. Is that kind of the same thing you’re seeing from [inaudible 00:05:02] standpoint?

John Bel Edwards: (05:03)
Yeah, I think I described the process just a while ago as to what we’re doing and what other states are doing, and it’s not a model of efficiency, and I think that that’s unfortunate, but it is the method that we’re using. In fact, it’s the method that we’ve been told to use as it relates to PPE and to ventilators. Obviously the 150 ventilators are 150 more than we had before this was granted. It is a slice of that pie. Obviously we’re not giving up just yet because I believe there remain ventilators in the strategic national stockpile, and I think that they continue to look for demonstrated need among the states, and they’re going to take that into consideration in making additional allocations, and so we’re not going to stop asking for ventilators, and we’re also not going to stop trying to source them elsewhere because we really need to increase that capacity here in Louisiana. Yes, sir.

Speaker 5: (06:03)
Governor, St. Charles Parish now has one of the highest per capita death rates in the country. I think they have 12 deaths there. Any idea if there’s like a nursing home or some explanation for that, and also can you speak to just the 54, these are by far our largest that increased, which I understand that confirmed cases aside may be affected by testing lags or whatever, but do you have any explanation for the 54 deaths also?

John Bel Edwards: (06:28)
I do not, so I’m not able to really do anything but guess about St. Charles, and I’m not going to do that. Maybe Dr. Biu [phonetic 06:40:00] knows whether there’s any specific thing that he can attribute that to. I can just tell you it’s unfortunate as I look statewide, and there’s been a lot of focus on New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. I mean, just look at those numbers, 1,834 in New Orleans parish, 1,193 in Jefferson, but look at the 242 in Caddo, and the 63 next door in Bossier. That’s what Orleans and Jefferson looked like not too long ago. And so all of this death, all of these cases are very, very concerning to me and to other people all across the state of Louisiana. And I agree, for every single one of the 239 people that we were reporting that have died, regardless of what parish they come from, and I don’t know whether you wanted to offer any…

Speaker 6: (07:37)

John Bel Edwards: (07:38)

Speaker 7: (07:38)
Last question.

John Bel Edwards: (07:39)

Greg: (07:39)
So, I know you tried to explain this, but you talked about the sobering number today and it’s a very startling number. Was it startling to you or is it… Dr. Biu?

John Bel Edwards: (07:53)
I’m going to ask Dr. Biu to come in, because I’ve addressed that the only way that I know how and there’s no way to see that number and not be startled. And look, I’m telling people to expect things to get worse before they get better, and I saw the number and I was startled. Okay? But I believe the number could be informed by test results that stacked up over a number of days, but that kind of broke through today. If that is true, then we should see something smaller than that tomorrow. I pray that that is the case. Of course, I’ve been wanting to see that for a long time, but we want to see it on a consistent basis, especially going forward because the stay at home order, if it is going to be effective in flattening the curve, we should start to see that play out in the very near future. So this is the last question of the day and I’m going to ask Dr. Biu to come and share his perspective on this.

Doctor: (08:47)
Thank you, Governor. Yeah, I share the Governor’s sentiments. I think anytime that we see that number increasing and look, we’re looking at models, we know what other cities are seeing, it’s still you feel that in your stomach when you see a number like that ad. But as the Governor noted, as we drill down into that data, what we see, my team that getting those results tells me that 90% of those were coming from commercial labs. We know we’ve heard from folks that are waiting longer than advertised for their commercial lab results to come back in. What we can’t tell you is who in that mix of those 90% of those positives that were waiting on a commercial lab, had their tests done four days ago, five days ago, six days ago or more. We do know that that usually means that the people who are making up that positive count would have been more likely to people not being tested in the hospital.

Doctor: (09:36)
People were most likely at the time of testing to be at home. What we don’t know is after that, did they feel sicker? Did they eventually have to go to the hospital? And so there’s a lot that we would love to change about the pace of testing, about the pace of the results coming in from commercial labs, so we could track in our models a little bit more definitely and understand where are we on the curve. But, that’s where we also have the hospital data that we’re tracking, where that is much more real time, and that gives us a better sense. So for the moment, what we know is 90% of that large increase was commercial. I agree with the Governor that that means I’d find it very unlikely that we would have such a large number tomorrow if it’s truly a glut.

Doctor: (10:18)
But as we said yesterday, I think when we were talking about what do we make of these changes, we’re looking at this data every day. I mean, my team is looking at the hourly. It’s really hard to draw big conclusions day by day. What you have to be doing is trending this out over time. And that’s certainly what we’re doing. That’s what we’re building in. And the basic point remains the same. The message to all of us is this is serious. And unfortunately as we saw for an additional 54 individuals, this is deadly. And the more COVID you have in the state, the more likely you are to be having people who are very sick and who end up in the hospital. The more likely people are in the hospital, the more likely they are sick enough that they could potentially die from his virus.

Doctor: (11:00)
And so the most important thing that we can do is slow the spread of this virus. And that is all the work that we’ve been talking about. Staying home, not taking your life in your hands, not taking your relatives life in your hands, doing your bit to slow the spread of this virus.

Greg: (11:18)
Thank you, doctor.

Doctor: (11:20)
Thank you.

John Bel Edwards: (11:22)
Thank all of you.

Speaker 9: (11:26)
For squirt.

Speaker 10: (11:28)
So the aerator puts the oxygen back into the water?

Speaker 9: (11:31)
That’s right. Let’s step outside. I want to show you something. We have algae and other phytoplankton out here right now.

Speaker 10: (11:42)

Speaker 9: (11:43)
Well, we usually have some because of the nutrients that are usually here, but recently a golf course opened out-

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