tv Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards Coronavirus Briefing CSPAN March 20, 2020 4:00am-4:44am EDT
favor. c-span two.k tv on ♪ ♪ changed sincehas suzanne began -- c-span began 41 years ago. already we have brought you primary election coverage, the presidential impeachment coverage, and now the federal response to the coronavirus you can watch all of the programming online, on television, or listen on our free radio app, and be part of our national conversations for c-span's daily washington journal program. c-span, created by private industry, america's cable television companies, as a public service, and brought to you by your cable television provider. now, louisiana governor john bel edwards holding a briefing with
reporters on the coronavirus response in his state. he presented an update on cases and announced two new debts on from the outbreak. from bratton bruce, this is 40 minutes. gov. edwards: i thank you all for coming out this afternoon. i appreciate those of you who are here and those of you who are watching online. i am joined by secretary walters from the department of family also buyren services -- and following my remarks, they will deliver some prepared remarks as well. i am also joined today by dr. here to answerbe questions if that becomes necessary. i justi came out, learned about to know deaths that we have had in louisiana because of the coronavirus. the total death count is now 10 in the state of louisiana. one of those, most recent, is
the 44-year-old orleans parish with underlying medical conditions, and the other was a lamba house resident. these individuals are in the most at risk category of our citizens because of age and underlying health conditions. the fifth total case house and remains the only known cluster in our state. for total confirmed cases in louisiana, that number is now 380. you should know that i just finished a call with the president and the vice president america's governors, some of which i understand was live on cnn and fox news, and of course we discussed the current isis and i did have a chance to ask him a student and share with him
my top priorities for the state of louisiana. certainly the number one party has to do with rapidly increasing our medical and health care surge capacity. based on the first models that we ran that i was able to take a look at just before our call with the president, we were able to determine that under basically what is a worst-case scenario, the coronavirus spread and its impact could begin to outpace our health care capacity in a certain region, down in the orleans jefferson region, within about seven to 10 days without additional support from the federal government. again, this is a worst-case scenario, and we are continuing different models, and we are engaging all of the experts that we have here in louisiana, and we are also asking experts outside of our state to take a look aat it,
for to know what to look and expect and prepare for. we have an urgent need to increase our medical capacity, because that is the only part of the equation that we are somewhat in control of, so we are doing those things, but the other side of the equation is minimizing the rate at which coronavirus is spreading across louisiana. this has been our goal since day number one. that is why we put in place mitigation measures that became increasingly restrictive in terms of him in terms of humic contact and movement and so forth over time. ,itigation is absolutely key and i am, again, urging, i am citizen ofvery louisiana to understand that you have a role to play, whether or not you are in a high risk category, every person is capable of contracting and
spreading this. everything from the closures to limitation of crowd sizes following the social distancing, washing your hands, controlling your cost, all of that a much more is incredibly important. we have to slow the spread of and you have heard it referred to as basically flattening the curve, so that we take this duration of this outbreak, and we extended over a longer period of time, that gives our health care community a longer time to ramp up and increase their surge capacity, and it prevents more from being placed on them in the very near term, so that is why we are doing those mitigation measures. been saying for several days now that the case
count in louisiana on a per capita basis is among the highest in the country. so what i said to the president should surprise no one, because i have ove always said we are most concerned about our capacity to deliver -- about exceeding our capacity to deliver health care, and it theds to reason that indication is sized to meet the population, so while we do not have the highest wall cases in the country come on a per capita basis, we are right up there at , and orleans currently comes in at number seven if you rank all in america. orleans is nowhere near the seventh largest parish or county in the country by population, and i can illustrate that by telling you currently number eight is cook county, illinois, which is where chicago is, so this is a very, very serious
situation, and i know that is a sobering analysis, but it is entirely consistent with what we have been telling you for days now, and that is why we need people to take all of these precautions seriously. and as we have also been telling you for several days, as the testing capacity and the throughput capacity of our labs havecreased, and as we commercial labs coming online with significant testing, we are going to see more cases in louisiana. -- it iss helpful distressing to see the cases rise, but it is actually helpful, because it gives us a better idea of what we are dealing with, and we are not flying in the blind so much, and this is going to continue for the next several days, so i want to continue to prepare people in louisiana that the situation will get more severe, much worse
before it actually plateaus and then gets better. --ittle bit of common positive news, as i am happy to announce today that the small business administration, the businessesproved all in america as being eligible for covid-19 business aid, and that means all louisiana small businesses, which meet sba criteria, are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans, of up to $2 million. and i want to thank our federal partners of swiftly approving my request for assistance. we were one of the first if not the first to be approved on a statewide basis, and i really appreciate that, because we are working as best we can to get aid to our small businesses as quickly as possible. we are suffering from our mitigation measures and all of the impacts related to the state of federal response to covid-19.
today, i will also be issuing another proclamation to address school accountability measures that will need to be suspended in light of the current situation. this proclamation applies to the current school year, 2019, 2020, and addresses suspensions to testing administration, school and district accountability, teacher evaluation, student workdays, teacher charter, and enrollment. some of these suspensions will be effective only if and when the united states department of education grants a waiver of the relevant provisions, because we have basically a contractual agreement with the u.s. department of education under the every student succeeds act to engage in certain assessments and accountability and evaluation, framework, and so forth, so i will suspend those statutory requirements today.
the effectiveness of some of those suspensions will come in to play once the waivers are granted, and we believe that they will be granted. the education of our students is obviously extremely important, and i want to thank everyone who has worked so hard and quickly to adopt distance-learning practices, especially our educators and school administrators. i encouraging family and caregivers, parents, to take every opportunity, make efforts to find out what your school district are doing, what educational activities you're children can engage in, while school is not in session. for that reason, i encourage parents to use resources like the public broadcasting educational program , and with libraries close, i found out today that my wife, donna, your first lady, who is a former teacher, she will be holding virtual reading every tuesday and thursday at 11:00
a.m. on her facebook page. i also want to announce if you lost your job or if you are paid hourly and have reduced hours, you may be eligible for medicaid, although you were not before, because many of the programs under medicaid, including the expansion, are determined by your income. you can apply online at mymedicaidla.gov. sorry, mymedicaid.la.gov. you can also apply on phone, 1-888-632-6207. as i said, we are all in this together. we all have a role to play, louisiana ends are out our best when we are at adverse times and we come together. we are good neighbors to one another, and we treat one
another as brothers and sisters, and i am encouraging everyone to do exactly that for the soainder of this crisis, that we can do all that we can to minimize the spread, make sure we are doing what we could do for our neighbors, especially those who are older, those with underlying health additions, so we are going to get through this. we are asking for patients, operation, and certainly i am asking for prayers. as i mentioned, i am now going to be followed by marquita walters -- marketa walters of dcfs. then i will come back and take your questions. sec. walters: thank you, governor. there is a lot of confusion around the supplemental nutrition program right now, p.,t we know as s.n.a.
previously known as food stamps. people in louisiana are used to having disaster food stamps anytime we have a natural disaster that comes our way. this is very different, so we have information for you and handouts for you that explain the s.n.a.p. program and how you can apply to receive those benefits if you have never been on them before, but now because of a different circumstance in your employment, you might become eligible. you can go, you can text now, we have text capacity, that you can 898211, andnap" to that will give you a link directly to the foodstamp application, and then you can fill that out. you can also call ellie help -help-you, which is our customer service line that can help you walk through that
if you need help. congress has done a lot to try to loosen some of the parameters around the s.n.a.p. program. remember, the s.n.a.p. program is a 100% federally funded program, and it is their program, and they run it. the states administer it. so any changes made to it must be changed by the federal government. congress and the senate just passed a bill, and it is waiting for the president's signature, that makes some changes to the program that will loosen some of the restrictions, and then we as a state have applied for waivers that can loosen some others, so we will be able to directly communicate to our s.n.a.p. recipients next week so that people do not have to come into call,fice, do not have to and we will be able to say directly to you through alerts and online testing, this is what
you will be able to get through your benefits, this is what is available to you, this is what is not available to you. it is a complicated program, and people get confused. our numbers have tripled. last tuesday, we had about 1000 applications for snap benefits. this tuesday, we had 3000. so we need our s.n.a.p. recipients to just take a breath and know that we are communicating directly with you. you do not have to call us. if you are new to the program and have never been on s.n.a.p. benefits and you want to know if you are available, then you can text 211 and get information. you can call them, and they will help you with that, and then our customer call center is also available. we are fully confident that we will be able to serve our population and give them the food help that they need, and the best, fastest way that we
possibly can. we will turn on every resource that we have available to us to help people get food, and so i will take questions at the end. >> thank you. good afternoon, everyone. i just wanted to provide a brief regards to unemployment insurance benefit provided to those who have experienced a job loss or reduction in hours. we would encourage everyone that needs to apply for benefits to go to www.laworks.net. additionally, if you are experiencing problems getting through, i would encourage you hours, until non-peak which i would call during the middle of the night, early in the morning, just because of the sheer volume of individuals we have filing it is slowing the system down.
weare doing everything that possibly can to increase capacity, and the governor has allowed every single support that we have asked for to be able to continue to do so. to give you an idea of the number of claims we have filed so far, as a lunchtime today, we were at 30,000 new claims for this week. week. new claims for this to give you a comparison, last week, we had 1700 claims for the entire week, so we are experiencing a high call claim volume. callan also call into our center, although the preferred method to applies through the internet, and that number is 866-783-5567. again, 866-783-5567. we have put additional staff onto our call center, and we will answer each and every call.
if you are unable to get in, please know that you have time to file and open your initial claim, and we will make sure that we work with you so that you can file your claim. -- out a video tutorial so that you can take a look at what you need to file your claim and the claims filing process before going on, so we would ask all of our friends in the media to post that tutorial so that individuals can know what they need to do and what information they need to have to be able to file a claim. we anticipate that your first check will be received next week, midweek, and we will continue to be there to assist. we have pulled other staff from other divisions within the workforce commission to support have 500 staff
working in processing these claims. we are returning calls and responding to each and every email, so we appreciate your patience. please know that we understand what difficult times these are, and we will work to assist you in every way possible. thank you. thank you, eva and marketa.and i will now take questions. >> governor, you spoke with president trump. can you give us what the various projections are? gov. edwards: i am not going to do that, because i want to be responsible. that was the first effort to model. it was put into my hands just a few minutes before that telephone conference began, but it highlighted what has been our number one concern for several days, and that is increasing our surge capacity to deliver more and so the, information that i have given you i think speaks for itself,
and we are going to continue to study and probably refine that know, ands well, you we are reaching out to other experts, as i previously mentioned, but that first look that i had, and it was a worst-case scenario, it was very sobering, because it indicates time todon't have much but,ase our surge capacity you know, we have to redouble our efforts as it relates to mitigation and slowing the spread of the virus. yes, ma'am. >> on that same issue, in terms of the lack of capacity, is that thatse of the beds, or is because of equipment shortages, or is that because of both? can you walk me through what you are talking about? gov. edwards: ultimately, when you talk about medical surge and
your capacity, you have to have the beds, the equipment, you have to have the staff, and that we brand the models based on assumptions about the continued growth rate of the spread and also the percentage of people who are positive who has to be hospitalized at any given time, so there's a lot of different numbers that you can run, but at the end of the day, it shows the growth of the number of people in the hospital's everyday, and you know what your available beds are now, you know what your available beds are at the surge capacity that we are preparing for, so you can kind of circled the day when your capacity meets your demand, and then every day after that, you are in deep trouble. so that is the way this works. modeling thats was based on worst-case scenario, but, you know, if the
worst cases they are -- and by the way, the worst case, it will only happen if people in louisiana do not engage in these mitigation efforts, because it assumes that the spread continues just like it has been, and the positive cases we are seeing today relate to exposures that happened several days ago. so if we are doing what we are supposed to do on these mitigation measures, then we should start to see a slower rate of new cases at some point, and as soon as we can bring that slower rate online, then the better, because we then don't exceed our capacity to deliver health care services. yes, sir. >> there is a capacity for beds, but what about medical professionals? what is the state doing to increase the number of doctors available to treat patients? gov. edwards: yeah, well, first of all, and a gets very complicated, but obviously the question is a good question, because we have been working on
that for a few days. we actually have a strike team now working for several days at the department of health and the identifying multiple strategies to make sure that we can staff new beds in order to increase our capacity. individualrt-term, hospitals, and certainly hospital systems, can increase their capacity internally, because they know the staff that they have, they can reallocate staff from elective procedures that we are putting on hold, and then those doctors, those 's, and soose p.a. forth are then available, so when they look at what they can do internally at a hospital or at a system level, that is very helpful, because they also have the ability to better use space that is currently available, so it does not have to be constructed and so forth. so we are working that as the primary means by which to achieve this surge capacity.
now there comes a point where, if i go out and open a hospital that may have been closed, and it is no longer part of any hospital or any system, i have got to find the staff to go in there, and we are working for various strategies on that. when i have more, i will let you know. this is not a problem unique to louisiana. in fact, one of the things that is so challenging about this particular disaster, and this is unlike any that people in louisiana are accustomed to, and it makes a big difference, is typically when we have something happen here, and we are working with our sister states and the federal governments, because we had a hurricane or we had a flood command you can always look to other parts of the country where they have the resources that you need, and they don't need them, so they send them your way, and you have a federal government that has stockpiles of resources and people and so forth, and they send them your way. well, we have the entire country that is on the same footing as we are, and so we are not going to be getting the assistance
from our sister states as we normally would, and the federal government is doing the very best job that they can to resource our requests for assistance, but they are having to do that across the entire country, and so -- and i don't want to speak for them, but they obviously have to go through some triage process in order to figure out where those limited resources are going to go, at least where they are going to go at the outset, till the production capacity ramps up, so that is what we are dealing with as it relates to every single facet of this particular crisis, whether it is our testing capacity, our collection kits, testing kits, whether it is ventilators and so forth, staff. and so this is a particularly hard emergency to navigate through, and it keeps bringing me back to the point i keep making, and i guess i am hopeful that if i may it enough times, people will take it seriously. what we can do is we can slow
the spread of this so that it does not overwhelm our capacity, but i cannot do it for you. you are going to have to use the mitigation measures that we put in place. you are going to have to honor those. and certainly, if you are a leader, you are going to have to be a leader, and you are going to have to make sure that you are telling people to follow the rules, and certainly don't do anything that would lead people to ignore them. and so, you know, i know i keep going back to that point, but it is the most critical point that i can make to the public right now. yes, ma'am. >> the national governors association -- among the list of requests you had in the letter was the availability of the national guard. is that of importance to you, and is there a way that you want to use the guard that you do not currently have the availability? gov. edwards: no, what my request of the president was in the number one request from the nga to the president has to do with how it is funded.
if it is funded under title 32, it is easier for us, and a gets kind of complex, and i can have del come out with me next to explain this, but we are able to use the national guard as we need to right now, and in fact, we are employing a little over 400 national guardsmen, i think 389 who are on state active duty for this particular event presently, and we can ramp that up considerably. as you know, they are providing stability at our shelter sites, where we have people in isolation or renting, depending on whether they are positive or not, but they are either homeless or they just cannot go home, so they are doing that advice, and they will do that at two other state parks around the state, because we want to employ these regionally. and then they are also going to be going out, assisting with a ites,-through test s
three of which will open tomorrow, two in orleans parish, wante one in jefferson parish. those should open tomorrow. we are helping jefferson and orleans to run those sites, so we have also -- the national guard is working warehousing operations, so as they receive many of the things that we are requesting, then they are the ones that actually push that out to where it is needed. so the national guard is -- they are activated. they are doing what we need them to do. we would just rather have them operating under title 32. it is just easier from a funding perspective for the state. yes, sir. >> governor, in light of the cases that lambeth house, how many of the baton rouge cases have originated from these living facilities? gov. edwards: i don't know that i can answer the question, and we don't have that information. and i don't know if it is one or
two -- i don't know. i don't have any reason today to tell you that assisted living facilities have been a driver in the cases that are being reported anywhere outside of lambeth house. and i really just don't want to speculate on that. >> in light of your new proclamation regarding schools, just to clarify, you mentioned school testing, among several things. is that to suspend the school testing that is supposed to start april 1 for the year? gov. edwards: it is to suspend a certain assessment and accountability measures, whether it is and of course testing, and then you take those test results, and you build in evaluations for teachers, letter schools, so it is a complex system that is really built around accountability, and we did not just put them in the statute. after the federal government passed the every student succeeds act, we obligated necessary ford so it becomes
the secretary to continue with contractual obligations. those suspensions are really only effective once we get the waiver. it is more complex than it probably should be but that is the way it works. i don't anticipate we will have a problem getting a waiver. allill probably be one of 50 states that get similar waivers from the federal government. every state has these contractual obligations. every state but maybe one or two. >> if you get more modeling data on this thing, are you closer to adding more mitigation measures than where we are now? gov. edwards: it is possible we could stay where we are now. but as we find the modeling and we take into account what it is
showing us in terms of when or caree demand for health , theneclipse our capacity it becomes incumbent on us to do more both as it relates to surging and as it relates to mitigation. there aren't many more mitigation measures we can put into place. certain that if we had a compliance -- if we had compliance by the people of louisiana to the maximum extent, we would not need additional mitigation measures put in place. rather the people focus on doing what they should be doing. dr. guptato on cnn -- said on cnn, everybody should like they hadlves
the coronavirus. i suspect nobody would be in this room listening to me right now. but if we did social distancing and so forth, that is what we need to do right now. calls --le of hospitals put out a call. is that on your radar statewide? p.p. is on theo radar as it relates to health care workers, first responders, and nursing homes. it is on the radar of all of these health care providers in louisiana, elsewhere around the country, and the world. we are doing everything we can working with the federal government and the vendors that typically sell these items into the state of louisiana.
use of m95ng maximum respirators. you would typically see these in industrial settings. these might be more readily available because they are here insufficient -- in sufficient quantity already. they are in warehouse is related to the distribution system and may be in a different place. we are trying to make use of that. i'm encouraging all the industrial entities in louisiana that may have respirators to please contact the louisiana department of economic development. i'm asking you to be generous in donating those masks to the state of louisiana here in the short term until we can get the normal ppe stockpiles that we
need in order to meet this demand. obviously, this is a challenge all around the country. the situation with ventilators is particularly challenging. if an individual is hospitalized because of coronavirus, there is a good chance the individual is going to need to be placed on a respirator. ournly have so many in state. that is true for every state. we are all trying to get more respirators and trying to figure out -- excuse me, more ventilators. we are trying to figure out what flexibility we have to move ventilators for some of the , the optionals procedures that we will be delaying. can those be brought to the hospital and use where we think they can? that we can authorize that and maximize it that way. that we are trying with some success to acquire new
ventilators by buying them. everybody in the country is trying to buy ventilators right now. they are very difficult to find. [talking over each other] gov. edwards: we will do both of you. numbers,ms of the case i understand all of those people are not necessarily in the hospital. of and you keeping track monitoring people to ensure that they are self-quarantining and doing what they are supposed to do? gov. edwards: first of all, that is a great point. it goes back to the modeling. i shouldn't get too deep into this. the testing because of the limited capacity to test and the protocols that we receive from
the cdc, a large percentage of people we are testing, people in the hospital. positiveok at the cases, there is a high that aree of people ambulatory and will never need to be in the hospital. and so we've got to figure out what the number is the best you can. that needs to inform your model. we are not really there yet because we are starting to get the test results from the increased testing capacity and all of the testing that has come online recently including all the private labs. individuals, by the way, we should hope that a large percentage of the people that are positive do not need to go
to the hospital. but they do need to go home and they need to isolate for how long they are told. and they need to abide by that. specificven very instructions to go home, stay home, to call in a couple of times a day with their temperatures. and if their symptoms worsen, they need to be back in touch with their health care provider or their hospital. this is one of the things that gets right up there with mitigation measures. if you are an individual that contract this virus, you need to go home and do what you've been instructed to do. thate extent you don't do and you allow people into your home to visit with you, you are taking an unreasonable risk of spreading the virus. question.eat
weeks --ming days and this is something that will not be over soon, but a greater percentage of people that test positive will be told to go home and isolate. it is important for people to do exactly as they are told by their health care providers when they are sent home. last question. >> you talked about the importance of changing behavior and set a couple of times that if we don't, these things may come true. just to clarify, are we on pace to meet the worst case scenario? gov. edwards: yes. we are. if you look at the increase in cases day-to-day, the percentage of new cases and how long it takes to double the number of cases, this is early. the trajectory is the same as what they had in italy.
and if there is anything that i've said today that ought to get people's attention, it's that. just because we are in the united states of america, we can't possibly get to where italy is today, i would ask you on what assumption are you making that? if we are not going to look like italy in 10 days or two weeks, it will only be because of these mitigation measures. it will only be because of these mitigation measures. hate to leave on such a sobering note, but there you have it. bestasking for the very from the people of louisiana. i am asking for prayers. we will do everything we possibly can to increase our capacity and manage this as best
we can using every available resource, thinking outside the box. there is only so much your state can do. there is only so much your parish and city government can do. thank you very much. >> it is easy to follow the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak at c-span.org/coronavirus. follow the spread throughout the world with interactive maps and charts. briefings with specialists unfiltered at c-span.org/coro navirus. c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues. coming up this morning, dr. --discusses the latest in the coronavirus outbreak. guest talks about their
experience along with new york city's response to the outbreak. washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. san antonio is very much a bicultural community. the latino story is the san antonio story. >> the c-span cities tour is on the road exploring the american story. we take you to san antonio, texas. becausentonio is here of these missions. >> this is the central part of airpower central. city fromn about the some of the authors of book tv. and we travel to museums and historic sites as we learn about the city and surrounding areas. the c-span cities tour, taking you on the road to explore the american story.
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coronavirus measures. we will also hear from vice president pence and dr. deborah birx. the conference took place at the national response coordination center in washington. this is only an hour long portion of the event because of technical difficulties. >> mr. president and vice president, we thank you for being here. we appreciate your visit to fema. week byndicated last signing the national emergency, .t has really empowered fema continue to support the emergency and all elements with state and global partners. processs know the fema and how that works. process we will be usinin