Phase 3 in Louisiana put off amid coronavirus spike
The country states are trying to balance public health and safety with the economic impact of lockdowns. The push and pull is being felt nationwide, but especially in some states that are now rethinking the reopening timetables summit arise and Corona. Virus cases one of them. Is Louisiana one of the hardest hit states in the nation? Early on in the pandemic, the state had begun reopening, but is now hitting. Pause on those plans joining me now with more details as reporter Scott Calvert. Scott before we talk about the fight to reopen, let's backtrack to the early days of the pandemic. Louisiana was one of the worst hit states in the country. That's right. Yeah I mean in late, March and early April the number of cases and the death toll in Louisiana, particularly in the new, Orleans area was just enormous, and at one point Louisiana rather was second only to new. New York state in per capita deaths, and there were two parishes which are the equivalent of counties in Louisiana that had the highest number of deaths per capita nationwide, so it was. It was really bad, so we've seen cases. Go down in some of the places that were hit hard early on like new. York New Jersey, but that hasn't been the case in Louisiana. Why not? Well. The governor on Bel Edwards basically says that people have not been good about doing things like wearing masks and practicing social distancing and staying home. They're sick. That sort of thing and it's really interesting because you know in in Louisiana their numbers basically peaked in mid April, and you started seeing this sort of steady decline in hospitalization and things like that and they really thought that things were going to keep getting better and they did. Did until mid June so just a couple of weeks ago, and then it started getting up again, and it's been doing that ever since the last two plus weeks the number of cases has been rising number of hospitalizations are on the upswing, and you know the the governor says it's really really boils down to people, not doing those things like wearing masks and practicing social distancing as the state has started to open up again. No amid arise in cases in several states, especially in the south and western United States. We've seen some areas, rollback or pause plans to reopen, but there is a fight going on in Louisiana over the reopening. What's happening? Right so Louisiana entered phased to in their lexicon back in on June the fifth and what that did is that allowed restaurants and gyms and hair salons, a lot of other businesses to operate at fifty percent capacity, and before that they have been at twenty five percent capacity. So what happened is early last week Governor Edwards said look. I'm going to pause us in phase two for another four weeks rather than go to the next phase of of reopening, and he said that he was doing that because the numbers weren't looking good, because the cases were up and so forth. Forth, and so he thought it prudent to pause where they were to try to drive those numbers down, and the issue is there are a number of Republican lawmakers in the State House of Representatives. Who would like to take away his authority governors to to operate the state of emergency? Because basically what they want to do is to allow local jurisdictions. Perish isn't cities to decide how open or not, the local economies should be, and they make a number of arguments. I mean one is that the hospital system in Louisiana is nowhere near being overwhelmed, which was a very real concern. Concern a couple of months ago, they also point out that you know. There's variations in terms of how badly affected certain parts of the state are, and they also point out that a lot of younger adults are are driving these increases in in case numbers, and that you know for the most part younger people people in their twenties say do pretty well clinically in terms of the virus, Cova Nineteen and that essentially, it's time to to open up the state more than it is. Because a lot of businesses are are really hurting in many ways. It seems like the challenges several. Several states are facing and that we've been talking about for the last several weeks. Balancing Public Health and safety concerns with economic concerns and the challenges, especially for small businesses that aren't able to stay open. That's right and one of the interesting dynamics there in Louisiana is you know. I talked to the head of the Baton Rouge area. Chamber of Commerce and they don't support this effort to override the governor's state of emergency, which is basically a petition drive in the House of Representatives and one of the reasons why they don't is because. They told me that they think that. They're satisfied with the path that they're on the way. The governor is handling this, but one of the real concerns I think is that if the number of cases keeps rising and in the state, decide that needs to take more drastic action. They're worried about restrictions being reimposed and rolling back to say phase one when they could only open at twenty five percent, and so they really don't WanNa. Go backwards and they're. They're not thrilled probably with with being at half capacity, but they'd rather do that. And I think a lot of businesses are able to more or less deal with that environment, rather than than go back to a situation where either they have to have a lower capacity or close altogether. And what is the governor saying about the petition effort? Governor Edwards has said he doesn't think this effort is going to succeed. But he also described it as irresponsible to the point of being asinine, and he thinks it just sends the wrong message to the residents of Louisiana at a time when they really are trying to encourage people to wear mouse, and be socially distant and things like that, and he also says that if that were to succeed in Louisiana would be the only state other than Wisconsin without a statewide order. At this point, the only reason Wisconsin doesn't have one. Is that the State Supreme? Court there overturned the Wisconsin border?