NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - In a weekly report compiled by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, 51 parishes are being classified in a so-called ‘Red Zone’, suggesting further restrictions to help control the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The federal task force compiles the reports weekly and sends them to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the rest of the nation’s governors.
The task force classifies states and local areas in the green-yellow-red categories by looking at data from several different factors including new cases per capita, test positivity rate, amount of testing performed, deaths, and nursing home COVID-19 levels.
In the latest report, obtained Monday, 51 Louisiana Parishes are in the ‘Red Zone’, with 10 parishes listed in the ‘Yellow Zone’ classification. The July 20th report had 48 parishes in the ‘Red Zone’ and 14 parishes in the ‘Yellow Zone.' The state’s largest parishes -- Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafayette, Ouachita and Rapides -- are all listed as ‘Red Zone’ parishes, while Orleans Parish is listed as a ‘Yellow Zone’ parish.
On the state level, the task force noted high levels of new cases per capita, test positivity rate, deaths per capita, and skilled nursing facilities reporting Coronavirus cases. Those categories were also high in surrounding states during the same time period.
The report did note that the state had good numbers in testing per capita and that while the test positivity rate was high, it had decreased from the previous week.
For parishes in the ‘Red Zone,’ the White House Coronavirus Task Force suggested people wear a mask at all times outside the home and to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer. The task force also suggests that public officials “close bars and gyms, and create outdoor dining opportunities with pedestrian areas.” The closing of bars and gyms is something that Louisiana has not enacted in its current Phase 2 status.
On July 24, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an order prohibiting to-go alcohol sales, effectively closing bars in the city which had been limited to to-go only orders.
In ‘Red Zone’ parishes, the task force recommends people use takeout or eat outdoors socially distanced, while in the ‘Yellow Zone’ areas it suggests allowing for indoor dining when strict social distancing can be maintained.
For ‘Yellow Zone’ parishes, the task force suggests limiting social gatherings to 25 people or fewer and reducing interactions and activities to 50% of normal activity.
Governor Edwards is scheduled to address the latest numbers and trends in a press conference on Tuesday, July 28 at 4 p.m.