JBE Denies A Shelter-In-Place Order Is Coming, But…

…nobody seems to believe him, and the rumors continue to abound.

Here was what the governor’s office put out yesterday with respect to the notion he’s going to further clamp down on Louisiana’s economy…

(1)There is no current plan to require citizens of the state to shelter in place;
(2) The National Guard is being deployed to help with sites that have been set up to house persons who are awaiting test results and do not have a place to stay, to help stand up drive-thru testing sites, and to help evaluate structures that may serve as temporary hospitals to support the medical surge we anticipate;
(3)The National Guard has NOT been deployed to invoke martial law;
(4) Local governments have the ability shelter in place without approval or direction of the governor;
(5)Shelter in place, as implemented by other municipalities and states, is not a complete lockdown that requires people to not leave their homes. People are still allowed to go to work, to go to the grocery store, to go to the pharmacy, to go to the doctor, etc.

That would seem to set the stage for a shelter-in-place order that so many people think is coming.

Will we see a shelter-in-place order from Edwards? The guess here is no, but we might very well see one from local governments in places like Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, where the Wuhan virus has spread significantly. As of yesterday afternoon Louisiana 380 cases of the virus, with 10 deaths. That number rose to 11 overnight, and Edwards said Louisiana is on a path for an impact of the virus similar to that being experienced by Italy. In that country of 60 million there are so far 41,000 cases and 3,400 deaths.

But there are lots of differences between Louisiana and Italy. Italy had some 100,000 Chinese, many of whom were illegals living in squalid conditions, working in sweatshops in the garment and leather goods trades, and there were daily flights from Milan to Wuhan and back. Italians very typically live in intergenerational domiciles, in which three or even four generations of people within a family will share a house in relatively close quarters – making for an ideal environment to spread the virus to at-risk elderly citizens. Some 99 percent of the deaths in Italy, according to a study conducted by the country’s national health authority, came from patients who already had other illnesses; the average age of those who died was 79.5. More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease. Italy has the second oldest population in the world; only Japan’s population is older. And in Italy, smoking is far more common than here. Plus, Italy has, more or less, a single-payer health care system; it’s becoming quite obvious as this crisis continues that socialized medicine is completely incompetent to handle outbreaks of infectious disease.

Certainly there are some similarities between the two populations, and there are some lifestyle similarities as well, particularly in the New Orleans area where the population is a bit denser than elsewhere in the state. But for Edwards to have made the comparison was a signal that shelter-in-place is coming, despite his denials.

And there is anything but a unified front with respect to the direction Edwards is moving the state in, and not just on the issue of church services. Here’s a message we received this morning from a member of the Louisiana legislature…

So yesterday a big shipment of coronavirus tests arrived in LA and today they will be able to test more people. The number tested and the number of positives will be updated on the LDH web site. And officials (JBE) will work themselves into a tizzy pretending they are trying not to alarm anyone as they call for more isolation based on those new and growing numbers. And the public will panic anew.

But the reality is they aren’t testing everyone and those positive results that get reported next week mean people had symptoms this week (which led to testing) after being contagious last week without knowing it, after catching the virus the week BEFORE we did any social distancing and excess hand washing.

So all the new measures (reducing gatherings to 10 or total lockdown) will be easy to push because of the “alarming” numbers, but not necessary.

Anyway, after we are totally locked down for a week or two and the positive test numbers begin to drop, they will be credited to the most extreme actions (not what we have been doing for the last 10 days) and that will be used as the basis for future health threats.

The important thing to remember here is that the increase in positive cases doesn’t reflect the reality of the disease’s spread. What it reflects is an increase in testing, which is the major development in recent days in Louisiana. There’s a drive-thru testing center in Baton Rouge which opened on Monday, for example, and it opens and closes based on whether it has enough test kits to handle people who have doctor’s orders to be tested. Two are opening in New Orleans to a limited clientele of health care workers.

Which is anything but a scientific sample.

It’s fairly obvious that far more Louisianans have this virus than current testing numbers indicate. Talk to people in the New Orleans area, and they’ll tell you there has been a Wuhan virus-like ailment going around since at least January – a dry cough that won’t go away with a fever spiking in the first few days. They commonly think they’ve had this thing even before Mardi Gras, when it could easily have spread all over the place. The fact that China lied about the Wuhan virus and didn’t shut down international travel until after the Chinese Lunar New Year, in which the whole country goes on vacation and Chinese people can be found in tourist hotspots all over America, including New Orleans, means it’s entirely possible the Wuhan virus hit New Orleans earlier than most other cities and spread throughout the area before anybody even thought about it. It wasn’t until it started reaching at-risk patients that anybody took it seriously.

If that’s the case, we might be further along the curve of this outbreak than anyone thinks.

But that’s just a theory. It’s impossible to know, until this thing plays out, when the worst of the outbreak will come. Just like it’s anyone’s guess whether Edwards and the rest of the state’s leadership will attempt further measures to control its spread by limiting economic activity.



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