TigerStadium.adv.002

A view of Tiger Stadium from the new Skyline Club that is located atop the south deck of the stadium in Baton Rouge on Thursday, September 7, 2017. (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune) ORG XMIT: NOLA1709071449473163

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday he is inclined to support placing a limit of 25% of capacity in Tiger Stadium – around 25,000 fans – when the 2020 football season begins for LSU on Sept. 26.

"I am looking at 25% but understand whatever announcement we make today is always going to be subject to what is going on with COVID between now and then," Edwards told reporters.

COVID-19 is the illness causes by the coronavirus.

The limit, like those in professional sports, would be in place to reduce chances for a spread of the virus.

The governor noted that a 25% capacity limit would be in line with other Southeastern Conference schools that have made announcements.

"It is always reasonable to look at what other states are doing but it is not something we are bound to follow," he said.

Even 25,000 fans "is a lot of people," he said. "That is the concern."

Edwards made the comment in response to a question during a briefing on the cleanup after Hurricane Laura did heavy damages to southwest Louisiana, and parts of central and north Louisiana as well.

He also disputed speculation that LSU officials have delayed making an announcement on the issue because they disagree with the governor, and back a higher cap that allows more fans.

Ernie Ballard, LSU media relations director, said Tuesday school athletics officials plan an announcement soon.

LSU Interim President Tom Galligan is set to hold his weekly meeting with reporters on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The school earlier gave its roughly 60,000 football season ticket holders three options: Roll their payment for this year's tickets into a donation, apply this year's payment to the cost of next year's tickets or request a refund for this year's games, with the right to retain the seats with a deposit of $100 per seat.

Louisiana has had one of the highest number of coronavirus cases per capita of any state in the nation for months.

Edwards noted that the state has already had two surges of positive cases of the virus since March and he is not interested in Louisiana experiencing a third one.

The state reported 250 more positive cases of the virus Tuesday, which is well below the totals of recent weeks.

However, the total number of tests – 4,125 – is about one-fourth the number typically reported, which Edwards attributed to the Labor Day weekend and the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

State health officials also reported 13 new deaths from the coronavirus, or 4,955 in all.

Whether the trends warrant the state moving to Phase 3 for the reopening of its economy, including fewer school, restaurant and other restrictions, is unclear.

The current order that kept the state in Phase 2 expires Friday.

Edwards tentatively plans to hold a briefing on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. but it may focus on the hurricane cleanup.

"We will have a decision perhaps as early as tomorrow," he said.

The governor said officials are waiting on information from the White House coronavirus task force that usually arrives on Sunday.

Edwards said power outages as of noon Tuesday total 137,921 customers, down from about 615,000 shortly after the Category 4 hurricane struck Cameron Parish around 1 a.m. on Aug. 27.

Most of the outages are in the hard-hit Lake Charles area.

"Unfortunately progress will be slower going forward ... just because of the sheer devastation to the infrastructure of southwest Louisiana," Edwards said.

The number of deaths from the storm is 26, including seven fatalities during hurricane cleanups and nine linked to portable generators.

State officials said 48 water systems are out, affecting more than 15,000 customers.

A total of 93 boil advisories remain in effect.

Also, 12,300 evacuees remain in shelters – mostly hotels – across Louisiana and another 4,500 state residents have evacuated to hotels in Texas.

"We are just about at capacity with rooms we have under contract here in Louisiana," Edwards said. "They have the space in Texas. We encourage you to stay there." 

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.