BATON ROUGE, La. — With just days left in Phase 2 of reopening the state, Governor John Bel Edwards says residents can expect a decision on moving into Phase 3 as soon as Wednesday.
During a news conference Tuesday, Edwards said residents can expect to hear an announcement "as early as Wednesday." The governor's current Phase 2 order is scheduled to expire Friday, meaning a decision must be made by then.
This time, Edwards is facing the unknown results exposure at plenty of Labor Day celebrations which he cautioned could cause similar spikes in cases seen after Memorial Day. Like before, any spike in cases likely will not show up in the daily reported tests for a week or more, well after Edwards has made the decision to remain in Phase 2 or advance into Phase 3.
According to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, a state can plan to move into Phase 3 of reopening after seeing a downward trajectory of documented cases for at least 14 days in Phase 2. Louisiana entered Phase 2 in early June, but the state saw a rapid increase in cases in deaths starting a week later. Since then, Louisiana has reversed some easing of restrictions on bars in an effort to once again flatten the curve. The state has mostly seen a downward trajectory in average new cases reported since last month.
The CDC’s Phase 3 guidelines would also allow bars to increase standing room occupancy and vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions with physical distancing and face coverings.
People considered low-risk for the virus will still be asked to minimize time spent in crowded environments where social distancing is not possible.
However, the CDC guidelines are only recommendations and the White House is encouraging each state to create its own phases of reopening with restrictions specific to their local needs.
The governor is under increasing pressure from parishes such as St. Tammany and Jefferson to change the statewide mandate to a parish-by-parish mandate, however, as the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate reports Tuesday that the immediate outlook for those two parishes being granted more leniency in COVID rules would not be great based on recent testing results.
Edwards is also undoubtedly aware that high school football has decided to move forward with playing games a month from Tuesday and that the New Orleans Saints expect to seat fans - how many is still uncertain - for its second game on Sept. 27. That will also be one day after LSU football opens its 2020 season.
The stakes are high. The state is approaching 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus, but at the same time, there are daily headlines of businesses closing because of the limited conditions.