Gov. Edwards tours storm damage, gives COVID-19 briefing from W. Monroe

Severe Weather

WEST MONROE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he expects to sign a proclamation Tuesday regarding the remainder of the school year in the state that will allow the school year to continue online and not physically back on school campuses.

“Education will continue. The school year continues, but they will not be going on the school campuses,” Edwards said.

As it is, the governor noted, the school year generally ends around May 20. Social distancing measures are expected to need to continue through the end of May, although the governor has not yet signed an emergency order that would extend those measures orders beyond April 30.

“It’s just too early to know” when Louisiana can begin relaxing stay-at-home orders that have devastated the state’s economy to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Edwards said in response to a question Monday about President Donald Trump’s eagerness to get businesses re-opened around the nation.

MORE: Gov. Edwards: “Too early to know” when Louisiana can begin relaxing stay-at-home orders

Edwards made the comments during a briefing in West Monroe after touring the damage in North Louisiana from Easter Sunday storms in which he also gave an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Edwards declared a State of Emergency early Sunday evening in response to the storms.

Ouachita Parish was the hardest hit of the five parishes that suffered tornado damage, including one was an EF-2 with wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour along a two-mile track.

MORE: NWS: Five tornadoes touched down in ArkLaTex on Easter Sunday

Tornadoes were also confirmed Monday by the National Weather Service in Bossier, Bienville, Webster, and DeSoto Parishes, as well as Harrison County in East Texas.

Edwards thanked first responders, nurses, and doctors, for their work on the front lines of the pandemic, particularly those who are dealing with devastating storm damage.

“Dealing with devastating storm damage on top of a public health emergency is very, very difficult,” said Edwards.

As of Monday, 21,016 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed across Louisiana, with cases now in all 64 parishes. There have been 884 deaths statewide.

MORE: LDH reports 21,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 884 deaths reported across Louisiana

A graph of the statewide cases shows the trajectory of total cases beginning to slowly level off, with the growth of new cases staying at five percent or lower since Friday.

“They do continue to be encouraging,” Edwards said of the latest numbers.

“I’ve received reports that the people of Louisiana over Easter Weekend did not take social distancing as seriously as they should have,” Edwards added.

Referencing data models that track cell phone usage to assess how much people are moving around, Edwards pointed out that Louisiana has slipped from a C grade to a D.

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