Gov. Edwards: Ventilators could become major problem; convention center could be used as medical facility

Gov. Edwards holds briefing on COVID-19 response
Gov. Edwards holds briefing on COVID-19 response
Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 3:59 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards said ventilators could become a major problem for the New Orleans area by the first week of April.

Almost 1,800 people have tested positively for COVID-19 and at least 65 people have died. The governor said the state health department numbers might not accurately reflect how rapidly the figures are changing.

The numbers say only 48 parishes are affected, but Edwards said all 64 parishes have at least one case.

The trajectory of case growth is “alarming.”

However, the state almost doubled the number of tests in one day, but did not come back with the same proportion of positive results.

The state has dispensed more than 100 ventilators in the New Orleans area on Wednesday (March 25), and he expects more tomorrow.

“The problem isn’t that cases are growing everyday, it’s that they’re growing drastically everyday,” Edwards said.

The state and hospitals are working to get more ventilators through private vendors, and they are using additional strategies like retrofitting other breathing devices to keep up with demand.

Edwards said this is closest to a “big issue” when it comes to treatment.

The state is working with medical boards and schools to bring more staff aboard.

The governor also said the Morial Convention Center and some other large facilities are being considers as “step down” medical facilities to treat COVID-19.

Smaller buildings, like college dorms or trailers, were considered but ruled out. Thinning out medical staffs over a large area would create a logistical nightmare.

Edwards wanted to thank President Donald Trump and the state delegation for approving an emergency declaration for Louisiana. It is only one of five state designated to get more supplies and financial help.

Details of that help is still being ironed out, Edwards said.

Officials are continuing to push for residents stay home in hopes to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus. They say the efforts will be in vein if everyone doesn’t do their part to stay isolated and practice social distancing.

Apple is donating 100,000 n95 masks to Louisiana to help an overwhelmed medical community stay afloat.

The blood supply is critically low and food banks need money. Edwards asked people to donate what they can.

The state is also asking parents to keep their kids engaged in educational activities. The timeline on when they might return to school is fluid.

The governor also said that employers have plenty of guidance on what they should do to protect employees. Hazard pay is not something the state has mandated for essential employees at private businesses. Workers need to talk to their bosses.

“Essential businesses should follow the guidelines,” Edwards said.

Health officials also continue to push ways to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

These precautions include:

  • Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and frequently
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with your arm
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Routinely cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoiding close contact with others
  • And staying home if you are sick

Several parishes are offering testing for COVID-19. Each testing site has its own criteria and protocol. It is advised to call first before heading to a location to confirm they are open and have not met the testing cap for the day.

A full list of testing site can be found here.

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