There’s good news. The state of Louisiana has been heading in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19 progress. Compared to other Southern states, White House data shows that our state is No. 1.
No stranger to the awful COVID-19 red zone, we have moved into the less-serious orange zone based on new cases per capita. We’re one of 15 states in that category, and we’re No. 36 based on new weekly cases per capita. Even better, as a state, we’re in the green zone for positivity, meaning a rate at or below 4.9%, and that makes us 34th highest in the nation.
With so much going on this year, and with the novel coronavirus forcing us into entirely different lifestyles for so many months, it’s good to know that state and local COVID-19 mandates and guidelines have been effective. Unfortunately, as of a few days ago, Caddo, Jefferson and Orleans parishes have the highest number of new COVID-19 cases and they account for more than 23% of new cases in the state.
Dr. Joe Kanter, the regional medical director for Region 1, which includes Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, joined Gov. John Bel Edwards at a news conference Thursday to provide an update. Kanter expressed cautious optimism about the good news, saying we have to continue limiting our interactions, wearing face coverings or masks and washing our hands regularly. He said we’re likely heading into “what could be a season with considerable risk” as more of us stay indoors for longer periods of time. Being good citizens and cooperating are critical.
Just recently, two New Orleans bars were given warning citations because the Bourbon Street businesses served alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m. and didn’t enforce social distancing or mask-wearing in violation of city and state rules.
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome told her citizens they are “on the right path to slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and we must work together to ensure we continue on this path.”
The state’s largest city has been more restrictive than the rest of the state. New Orleans could align with the rest of Louisiana by Oct. 31 as the city eases its way through a tiered, phased approach to easing limitations — but only if city-specific data shows the city continues to be below desired thresholds. All of this could change depending on the outcome of an ongoing battle over coronavirus enforcement between Republican legislators and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Those legislators want restrictions lifted; Edwards says limitations are the reason we've had success.
In a video just a few days ago, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Mayor LaToya Cantrell each said “we all have skin in the game.”
We all have skin in this game, and it’s up to all of us to continue to make progress, to loosen restrictions and to see better days ahead.