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Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today is extending the state's current stay-at-home order through May 15th, keeping bars, dine-in restaurants and barber shops closed for two additional weeks before starting a phased reopening of the economy on May 16th.Ê

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a man who is no stranger to putting a hurting on business owners, extended his stay-at-home order to contain the spread of COVID-19 through May 15. The order was set to expire Thursday.

Each day businesses remain shuttered, layoffs skyrocket. Last week alone, an additional 200,000 filed for unemployment, according to Robert Wooley, of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

More than 340,000 in Louisiana have filed for unemployment since March 22. That’s more than three times the filings in all of 2019. Now that Edwards has closed the state through at least the middle of May, that number is sure to grow.

Halliburton, a Texas-based oil field services company, announced last week the permanent closure of its facility in Broussard, laying off 36 workers. Those high-paying jobs are gone for good.

Originally, Edwards told us we had to take the drastic step of shutting down the state’s economy to flatten the curve. We must slow the growth of the coronavirus so as not to overwhelm the state’s hospitals with sick patients, he warned us. On April 5, Edwards went on CNN and told the nation Louisiana was just days away from running out of hospital bed space for intensive care patients and ventilators. It never happened. It never came close to happening.

Edwards has moved the goal post. He now says he will not reopen the state until the number of new hospitalizations decreases 14 days in a row.

“I am disappointed in Gov.John Bel Edwards' decision to extend the stay at home order through May 15," said Rep. Blake Miguez, a Republican from New Iberia. “The delay in restarting our economy will destroy jobs and ruin livelihoods.”

Miguez says the governor should reopen the economy on a parish-by-parish basis. A chart used by Edwards at his news conference Monday shows in 7 of the state’s 9 regions, hospitalizations have either plateaued or decreased.

Republican Sen. Sharon Hewitt, from Slidell, believes the governor should follow President Donald Trump’s lead when it comes to reopening the economy.

“Just as the president chose not to have a one size fits all and is allowing states to decide, I believe the governor ought to be pushing that decision to local leaders,” said Hewitt.

And there is a growing sentiment rigid lockdowns employed by Edwards and other governors, mostly Democrats, are not helping. On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal published a commentary headlined, “Do lockdowns save many lives? In most places, the data say no.”

The column, written by T.J. Rodgers, a well-respected American scientist and founding CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, argued there was no evidence U.S. states with more stringent lockdowns prevented COVID-19 deaths.

“No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly, because their death rates ran the full gamut, from 20 per million in Oregon to 360 in New York,” wrote Rodgers.

Rodgers’ research team also compared Sweden, where there have been few restrictions, to U.S. states hardest hit by COVID-19, including Louisiana.

“Sweden is fighting the coronavirus with common-sense guidelines that are much less economically destructive than the lockdowns in most U.S. states. Since people over 65 account for about 80% of COVID-19 deaths, Sweden asked only seniors to shelter in place rather than shutting down the rest of the country,” Rodgers wrote.

“Sweden’s death rate — without a shutdown and massive unemployment‒is lower than that of the seven hardest-hit U.S. states — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey and New York — all of which, except Louisiana, shut down in three days or less."

Scientists and researchers will debate whether the unprecedented and extreme measures of shutting down our economy were necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. What is not up for debate is the economic calamity it has caused. Entire lifetimes of sweat, hard work, risk-taking, ingenuity and creativity have been wiped out for some business owners. Each new day Edwards continues the shutdown of Louisiana’s economy, the number of businesses that will shutter for good grows. Time is not on our side.


Email Dan Fagan at Faganshow@gmail.com.