Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered a lockdown on Sunday afternoon as the Bayou State’s number of novel coronavirus cases continues to climb at a faster rate than in any state or country in the world. Louisiana had no known cases of COVID-19 two weeks ago, but the total now stands at 837 confirmed positives. Last Sunday, it was just 91.
“In Louisiana we have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. However, this is not enough,” Edwards said in a statement on Sunday afternoon. “As our number of cases continue to grow, I am directing all Louisianans to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave. I am implementing this measure to help prevent you from becoming infected or infecting someone else.”
The order takes effect on Monday starting at 5 p.m. People should not go to work if they are not providing essential services, Edwards said, nor should they visit loved ones in hospitals, nursing homes, or other care facilities. He also told Louisianans not to visit family or friends unless there is an urgent need.
Edwards said state residents can still go to the grocery store or pharmacy, go to medical appointments after first checking with their providers, care for family members or friends, go outside as long as they stay 6 feet away from others, and order takeout, delivery, or drive-through from restaurants.
“People can leave their homes to do essential things like buying groceries or food, pick up medicine or go to work only if their job is essential. If you have to go out, make sure you practice social distancing measures and keep 6 feet between you and the people around you,” Edwards said. “People are encouraged to go outside and to stay active during this time, as long as they practice social distancing when they are around their neighbors. This order is not something I take lightly, but it is necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of our people, our communities and our way of life.”
Edwards said that, on a per capita basis, Louisiana has the third highest number of infections of any state. New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued a stay at home order for residents of the city, which has been the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, last week.
You can see a full interactive map of COVID-19 infections in Louisiana and other Deep South states at dsv.news/covid19.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story claimed Louisiana has the most COVID-19 cases per capita in the U.S. The state has the third most COVID-19 cases per capita.