Gov. John Bel Edwards won't renew COVID emergency order for Louisiana
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he won't renew his COVID-19 public health order when it expires Wednesday after Louisiana has spent 24 straight months under the order during the pandemic.
"This decision was certainly not made lightly," Edwards said during his speech Monday opening the three-month Legislative Session. "I have met with the Division of Administration, (Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness), the Department of Health and the Louisiana National Guard to ensure that there will be no federal aid repercussions or other adverse consequences from not renewing the proclamation."
Monday was the two-year anniversary of the first confirmed coronavirus death in Louisiana. Since then, more than 16,800 Louisianans have died from the infection.
"But a lot has changed," Edward said. "We have safe and effective vaccines that are saving countless lives. We have better therapeutic treatments. High-quality masks are now a practical option for families.
"Cases and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since we emerged from the omicron-fueled surge this winter. Parades rolled again this Mardi Gras. If that’s not a Louisiana breeze of hope, I don’t know what is."
Although the state has remained under an emergency order, Edwards dropped virtually all mitigation restrictions months ago.
"Just because the proclamation is expiring doesn’t mean COVID is over," he said. "If the circumstances call for it, I will not hesitate to declare another emergency. But God willing, we will never have to see such difficult mitigation measures in our state again."
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.