Louisiana will not be among the first states to reopen, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday, as the White House offers governors guidance on how to best start up their economies after coronavirus-induced shutdowns.

President Donald Trump told governors around the country Thursday afternoon that while he was giving guidance on how to reopen, the decisions will be left up to the governors, Edwards said during a virtual town hall with the Advocate. That was a sharp turnaround from recent days, when Trump said he had total authority over the pandemic.

Edwards said while some states will open sooner than others, Louisiana’s high rate of infections and deaths does not position the state to quickly ramp back up.

“This is not a cookie cutter approach where one size fits all,” Edwards said. “We don’t like it but we’re a hotspot here.”

Edwards said his staff was working through the guidance. Louisiana doesn’t currently meet thresholds the White House says states should meet before starting to reopen, he said. But by May 1st, when the current stay-at-home order is set to expire, “we could meet all of them.”

The governor has previously indicated the state’s restrictions could continue into May. He also has said there will be restrictions and changes to daily life in place for months.

Social distancing will be in place until there is a vaccine, Edwards said, a prospect that could be a year or longer away.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has already extended her stay-at-home order for the city until May 16th.


Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com