President Donald Trump praised Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in a Fox News broadcast Thursday night, citing his cooperation with federal relief efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After discussing the response of other governors across the nation to efforts to stem the COVID-19 outbreak, Trump mentioned Louisiana's chief executive.
"In the case of Louisiana, we have a very good governor, John Bel Edwards, though he’s a Democrat," Trump said. "We’re building a hospital for him."
Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Louisiana Tuesday night, approving an urgent plea for additional federal aid from Gov. John Bel Edwards as the state battles the growing coronavirus outbreak.
Edwards said Thursday the state's coronavirus response plan now includes 60 new health staffers and two new 250-bed field hospitals to be provided by the federal government – half of the 1,000 beds Edwards requested – along with nearly 400 ICU beds that hospitals across the state are adding in the coming days and weeks.
The details came a day after Trump approved Edwards' request for a major disaster declaration. The presidential disaster declaration means the federal government will reimburse 75% of what Louisiana state and local governments spend responding to the disaster. Edwards’ administration said that number was $113 million as of Wednesday — and rapidly rising as state officials work to build out hospitals, buy up equipment and rapidly expand coronavirus testing.
Trump and Edwards have had an up-and-down relationship since the governor took office.
The number of positive coronavirus cases in Louisiana continues to grow throughout the state Thursday, health officials report.
The president invited Edwards and his wife, Donna, to a state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron in April 2018. Edwards was the only Democrat who made it onto the White House’s list of VIP attendees.
Edwards also scored an invitation to a criminal justice reform summit at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and was one of two Democratic governors asked to sit at Trump's table when the president met with the National Governors Association at the White House in 2018.
But a contentious election cycle last fall also garnered attention from the White House, pitting Edwards against Republican candidates for governor. Trump visited the state multiple times during the election cycle to support Edwards' Republican rivals.
Potential coronavirus patients across Louisiana keep encountering the same problem: They visit a hospital, receive a coronavirus test and then…