By Will Hall, Message Executive Editor
BATON Rouge, La. (LBM)—Louisiana has joined California, Delaware, Illinois, New York and Ohio in taking the drastic step of locking down their respective populations. Connecticut, Oregon and Pennsylvania are considering similar measures.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order, March 22, directing the state’s 4.6 million citizens to shelter at home and limit movements from there for essential needs only, effective through April 12.
In a news conference, he said he reached his decision based on data from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette showing Louisiana only behind New York and Washington State in per capita cases of coronavirus infections. He also shared a graph indicating a steep growth trajectory in confirmed cases matching rates of infection in Italy and Spain, the two global hot zones for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 outbreak.
To date, Louisiana has 837 confirmed cases, including 20 deaths, with 36 of 64 parishes affected, although the most affected region of the state is the New Orleans metro area.
The practical effect of the measure mandates the closure of indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, personal care and grooming businesses, and malls (except for individual stores that provide essential services and which have direct outdoor entrances).
Edwards previously shuttered schools, casinos, bars and gyms through at least April 12.
Permitted activities include trips to: groceries, convenience stores and warehouse distributors; pharmacies and healthcare suppliers; doctors; veterans; take-out and drive-thru restaurants; and, care for friends or family members. Also, outside exercise is allowed with six feet of separation.
Prohibited activities include: going to work unless exempted as an essential worker; non-urgent visits to friends and family; visits of loved ones in health and personal care facilities; and gathering in groups larger than 10 people.
Early learning centers and other child care facilities may continue to operate under state guidance issued through the Department of Education and the Office of Public Health.
Edwards tweeted that his order was “not something I take lightly.
“But it is necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of our people, our communities and our way of life.”
The stay at home order is effective, starting at 5 p.m. March 23.