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BATON ROUGE – Governor John Bel Edwards is giving an update on statewide storm preparations as Hurricane Laura takes aim at the Louisiana coastline.

The entire Louisiana National Guard has been activated to assist with evacuation and search and rescue efforts, Edwards said. This is the first time the entire guard has been activated since Hurricane Isaac, according to Edwards.

Edwards said a combination of factors stemming from the impending impact of Hurricane Laura have lead him to increase Phase 2 for two more weeks.

Evacuations, the possibility of congregant shelters, and the reintroduction of school-aged children to the education system are all combining to increase the probability of yet another COVID-19 spike across the state.

More than 800 new coronavirus cases were reported today, along with 32 new deaths, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

“Louisiana has seen improvement in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and this would not be possible without the hard work of the people of Louisiana who have faithfully followed the mitigation measures, including wearing their masks when in public,” said Gov. Edwards. “While we have seen drops in hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases, we also know that we have more people moving around because of schools and colleges going back to in-person classes, which is one of the reasons we will stay in Phase 2 for another two weeks. The White House Coronavirus Task Force also continues to recommend that Louisiana keep its current mitigation measures in place, as Louisiana remains in the red zone for new cases and many of our parishes continue to have testing positivity rates higher than 10 percent.

Just this week, I had a conversation with Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the response for the White House, and she noted Louisiana’s improvement, but also recommended that we keep the current measures in place until we get positivity, cases and hospitalizations even lower. In addition, Hurricane Laura has caused Louisiana to pause its testing, which means that we will be flying blind with data for a couple of weeks when we need it the most to gauge the impact of resuming K-12 schools and higher education. Finally, tens of thousands of our neighbors from southwestern Louisiana, the area with the highest priority, ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall, and there will be additional sheltering after the storm – perhaps for an extended period of time. Extending Phase 2 until September 11 will allow us time to restart our testing and assess where we are after the storm.”

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