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BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide “stay at home” order.

Edwards announced the measure at an afternoon press conference on March 22. The order itself is slated to go into effect at 5 p.m. on March 23.

“In Louisiana we have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve; however, this is not enough,” Edwards said. “As our number of cases continue to grow, I am directing all Louisianans to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave. I am implementing this measure to help prevent you from becoming infected or infecting someone else. People can leave their homes to do essential things like buying groceries or food, pick up medicine or go to work only if their job is essential. If you have to go out, make sure you practice social distancing measures and keep 6 feet between you and the people around you. People are encouraged to go outside and to stay active during this time, as long as they practice social distancing when they are around their neighbors. This order is not something I take lightly, but it is necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of our people, our communities and our way of life.”

The order will stay in place through Monday. April 13, and it defines which businesses are considered essential and which ones are not.

Edwards said his office based their definitions of essential and non-essential businesses on parameters laid out by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Infrastructure guidelines.

The Office of the Governor released the following guidelines to define what the new Stay at Home order has limits on:

  • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, trampoline parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, pool halls, children’s play centers, playgrounds, theme parks, any theaters, concert and music halls, adult entertainment venues, racetracks, and other similar businesses.
  • All personal care and grooming businesses, including but not limited to, barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and other similar businesses.
  • All malls, except for stores in a mall that have a direct outdoor entrance and exit that provide essential services and products as provided by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines.
  • Businesses closed to the public as listed in the order can conduct necessary activities such as payroll, cleaning services, maintenance or upkeep as necessary.
  • Any business not covered by the guidance from the CISA discussed in Section 3 of the order and not ordered to temporarily close must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees, while requiring proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.
  • Early learning centers and child care facilities adhering to the guidance issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health may continue to operate.

According to the Governor, Examples of Essential Worker Functions under the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines include:

  • Healthcare workers and caregivers
  • Mental health and Social Service workers
  • Pharmacy employees
  • Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail sales of food and beverage products
  • Restaurant carryout and quick-serve food operations and food delivery employees
  • Farm workers
  • Electricity and Utility Industry Employees
  • Critical Manufacturing Employees (medical supply chains, energy, transportation, food, chemicals)
  • Petroleum, Natural and Propane Gas Workers
  • Transportation and Logistics Workers
  • Communications and Information Technology Employees
  • Financial Services and Banking Industry Employees

As of this morning, 837 people in Louisiana had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and 20 had died. Those numbers are expected to continue to climb.

Louisiana currently ranks as third nationwide in per capita coronavirus cases. That puts the state just behind New York and Washington State.

Edwards said healthcare is measured out on a per capita basis, so the extremely high number of cases per capita puts a severe strain on healthcare statewide.

Edwards stressed that all 837 confirmed cases in the state of Louisiana occurred within a seven day period. Louisiana currently has the fastest rate of growth in confirmed cases in the entire world.

To back up his assertion that Louisiana is on the same trajectory as Italy, where coronavirus cases have severely overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, Edwards showed a graph of the state’s growth trajectory after the first 100 cases.

On the graph, Louisiana is on roughly the same line as Italy. But, Edwards stressed, other countries like South Korea have effectively flattened their growth curve by taking measures like the statewide stay at home order.