Tense Gov. Edwards says COVID-19 “numbers are staggering”

At least 83 dead in the state, including Orleans Parish teen

Governor Edwards discusses latest state efforts for coronavirus

BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Despite medical supplies coming into New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, the approval of 250 field hospital beds, and a 60 member medical strike team coming to help the fight against COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards delivered one of his most tense news conferences since the virus outbreak hit the state.

The Louisiana Department of Health has reported that 2,305 people have tested positive for the virus with 83 reported deaths.

The state said a 17-year-old died in Orleans Parish. He’s the youngest known death from COVID-19 in the state.

“The virus knows no limits when it comes to age, race, background,” Edwards said. He did not have any information on the teenage victim, outside of his age.

He continued to stress that people need to stay at home, as the state is now tied with New Jersey as the state with the second most cases per capita.

“The numbers are staggering,” Edwards said. There has been a 28% increase in cases since Wednesday. The governor said 53 out of 64 parishes in the state have confirmed cases of COVID-19. But everyone should suspect someone they know might be carrying the virus.

New Orleans officials are gearing up to handle a possible overflow of coronavirus cases from area hospitals, including plans to treat patients at a convention center. The city has nearly 1,000 of the state’s more than 2,300 known COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.

Edwards said that it wasn’t an easy decision, but it would be healthcare workers in a place to be most effective.

“We could be out of ventilators as early as April 1,” the governor warned. “We could be out of beds by April 7.”

Hospitals like Ochsner and LCMC are getting more ICU beds, but a request for 5,000 ventilators from the federal stockpile has not been answered. The state has received zero.

The ominous statement came with a caveat: just stay inside, stay away from other people and don’t abuse the freedom to visit essential businesses.

“You don’t have to go to the grocery store every day,” Edwards said.

Edwards said 995 National Guard troops are helping support the test sites that are popping up across the state.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced on social media he was committing $5 million and working with business and organizations to deliver meals to needy people in the state.

The increase in awareness and cases is growing, but the governor begged for public help.

“This isn’t a scare tactic,” he said. “You have the power to save lives.”

Copyright 2020 WVUE. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.