Louisiana governor resists new COVID restrictions despite White House recommendations
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday he's not yet ready to impose new COVID-19 restrictions on people and businesses despite the White House recommending he do so and his own assessment that Louisiana is suffering a third surge of the infection.
"As we look at going forward it's not my intention to go all the way back to shelter at home and I don't have announcement today (on more restrictions)," he said. "If we do all the things in the current Phase 3 order our numbers will improve."
But Edwards didn't rule out adjustments if the infection rate continues to rise.
"If adjustments are needed ... we will certainly let you know," he said. "If we need to do additional restrictions we'll do that."
In this week's state-specific report sent to Edwards, the White House said "Louisiana is experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 with rising test positivity, cases and hospitalizations."
"Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies," the White House report recommended.
"Make no mistake; Louisiana is in its third surge," Edwards said.
The governor implored family and friends to reduce the size of Thanksgiving gatherings.
"If you're planning on a Thanksgiving that looks like a previous Thanksgiving you're making a mistake," Edwards said. "We ought to love our loved ones enough not to expose them to COVID."
Edwards' current order, which lasts until Dec. 4, has Louisiana in Phase 3 with a statewide mask mandate and occupancy and crowd limits for most businesses and gatherings.
Despite an increase in the infection, Louisiana remains in a better position than most other states.
Louisiana is in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population, with the 38th highest rate in the country.
The state had 172 new cases per 100,000 population compared to a national average of 294 per 100,000.
Louisiana is in the yellow zone for test positivity, indicating a rate between 5.0% and 7.9%, with the 38th highest rate in the country.
The White House pointed to Caddo, East Baton Rouge and Ouachita parishes as infection hot spots during the past three weeks with those parishes accounting for 22.8% of new cases in the state.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.