Louisiana governor says coronavirus will reach state eventually, urges residents not to panic

Published 4:24 pm Monday, March 2, 2020

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he expects Louisiana to eventually see its own cases of the new coronavirus and told the state’s residents Monday any confirmation of cases will come from his administration directly.

“We do believe it’s a matter of when, not if,” the Democratic governor said at a Press Club of Baton Rouge luncheon. But he added: “If you have not heard it confirmed by the Department of Health, it is not real, period.”

Louisiana has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, Edwards said. He said about two dozen people in the state have isolated themselves in their homes in a self-quarantine, upon the advice of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because they traveled in places where large numbers of people were infected by the virus.

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Edwards urged caution, but not panic, saying Louisianans should take precautions like they already do to try to avoid the flu. After participating in a call with Vice President Mike Pence and other federal officials, the governor said the Trump administration urged “not to have unnecessary disruption now from just the normal, everyday life because it just, it isn’t warranted.”

The governor announced Monday he has formed a COVID-19 task force to lead Louisiana’s planning for the virus’ spread. He said the state now has the capability to test for coronavirus through a swab test.