Louisiana governor: State may be turning the corner on virus

    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

    Even as the coronavirus pandemic claimed a newborn baby in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday the latest COVID-19 hospital admission and death rates could suggest new infections are slowing as more residents stay home and away from others.

    “We are starting to see real signs that these mitigation measures that we put into place weeks ago are starting to bear real results, and we’re hopeful that we’re seeing the beginning of the flattening of the curve,” the Democratic governor said. The comments, made at his daily press briefing, offered a hint of optimism in a state with one of the nation’s highest per capita virus infection rates.

    With a new shipment of ventilators arriving from the national stockpile and the encouraging data on hospitalization rates, Louisiana’s modeling no longer includes the dire projection that the New Orleans region could run out of ventilators and hospital beds this week.

    Still, the virus was blamed for the death Monday of a baby born prematurely after her mother contracted the disease and was put on a ventilator. And Edwards cautioned that even if data continues to show Louisiana has truly turned a corner in the outbreak, no one should celebrate by having an Easter crawfish boil or more trips outside of the house.

    “The fear is that I’m telling people that and they’re going to say, ‘Oh, the task at hand is accomplished. We can go back to doing whatever it is we normally do,’” Edwards said. “That is exactly the wrong answer.”

    Louisiana’s coronavirus caseload grew Monday to nearly 15,000 people with confirmed infections, about 12% of whom are hospitalized. The death toll rose by 35 from a day earlier to at least 512 deaths.

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