BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards is requesting a federal emergency disaster declaration ahead of Tropical Storm Cristobal.
In his Friday briefing, Edwards said the state continues to monitor the storm closely and that south Louisiana needs to prepare for a “worst-case” scenario of 10-15 inches of rain.
Edwards urged everyone who could be in the path of the storm to monitor the weather closely.
“Prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” said Edwards.
The governor’s briefing came after a Unified Command Group briefing Friday morning, the day after he declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s potential landfall this weekend. Cristobal strengthened back into a tropical storm Friday morning in the Gulf of Mexico after weakening to a tropical depression. While it is expected to move due North in a straight line to Louisiana, Edwards said the good news is that the National Weather Service has ruled out the possibility that it could become a hurricane.
It’s expected to bring heavy rain to the ArkLaTex on Monday.
Meanwhile, Louisiana entered Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, further lifting restrictions on churches and allowing maximum occupancy to increase from 25 to 50 percent. Some businesses that have remained closed through Phase 1 will also be allowed to reopen, including spas, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, bowling alleys, and event centers.
As of noon Friday, there were 41,989 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,801 deaths. But for the first time since testing began in the state in early March, the state’s overall positivity rate fell below 10 percent. That is a benchmark Edwards has pointed out the WHO and the CDC have set as an indicator of progress in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Edwards also noted in his briefing Friday afternoon that hospitalizations are also now at their lowest number since March 25.
Because of the threat of Tropical Storm Cristobal, Edwards said some of the COVID-19 testing sites will be closed this weekend. He said they hope to have them back up and running by early next week.