tv Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards Holds Coronavirus Briefing CSPAN March 25, 2020 12:36am-1:28am EDT
independent business talks about the impact of coronavirus on small businesses, and sam lagrone with u.s. naval institute news on the role of the u.s. navy hospital ships in the coronavirus response. watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern wednesday morning. join the discussion. at a news conference in baton rouge, louisiana governor john bel edwards urged state residents to comply with his newly issued stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus outbreak. he also called for additional resources from the federal government as the number of cases in the state surpassed 1300. >> good afternoon and thank you
for being with me. we will be here to take any questions related to testing. i want to start by thanking all of the state and local first responders, everybody out there, who is working so very hard on this emergency. and i want to, again, thank our health care workers. all across the state of louisiana. whether they're doctors and nurses, respiratory therapists, you name it. a lot of really, really good work by selfless people has taken place across the state of louisiana. and certainly particularly down in the new orleans region. last night, i requested a major disaster declaration for the state of louisiana from the federal government. so i directed that request to president trump. in order that we might receive additional support for state and local agencies as we continue to combat the spread of the virus and deal with all of those individuals who actually have the disease, covid-19.
as we anticipated and as we stated and, quite sadly, the number of cases in louisiana continues to rise. more drastically than we would like. as of today, we have 1388 cases and 46 deaths. that is 216 more cases than we reported at noon yesterday. and 12 more deaths since our report yesterday. i want to remind you that we are updating the numbers once a day now at noon. because it just became too much to try to manage with all
the various testing labs and reports that had to be coming in to the state and aggregated and to make sure that they were accurate and so forth. so we're going to do it once a day. across the state and this information is there for you, if you take a look at it, we have 1,252 individuals who are covid-positive -- i'm sorry. we have 1,252 people in hospital beds that we're following. 271 of these people have tested positive for covid-19. another 981 have been tested or will be tested and we are awaiting for their results. so we call these individuals p.u.i.'s, persons under investigation. 94 individuals who we know have coronavirus, covid-19, are on ventilators currently across the state of louisiana. it is important to remember that with respect to the persons under investigation, that 981 that are currently in the hospital, if recent history holds true, somewhere around 60% of those individuals will test positive for covid-19. the rest are in the hospital because of flu, other
respiratory ailments that they have. certainly not all of these individuals, in fact the minority of those individuals, should ultimately prove to be covid-positive. but they are in the hospital and they are taking up bed space is because they need to be in the hospital and they're using ventilators and so forth. so it is part of our overall challenge when it comes to delivering health care for those who need it. it's critical, and i've been saying this for some time now, and i know a lot of people are probably getting tired of me saying it. but it remains our number one priority, and this is where we're calling upon every individual in the state of louisiana. it is critical that we do our part immediately, you can't fix you what didn't do yesterday, or the day before, but starting right now and going forward, everyone has to do their part to reduce the spread of this particular virus.
everyone has a role to play, and i mean everyone. if we can preserve our precious health care resources so that they're available to provide care for each of us if and when we need hospital care, then that is clearly what we're trying to do. we have a critical window of time in order to flatten the curve and that is why the stay home order, which went into effect yesterday at 5:00 p.m., is so necessary. we must minimize social contact and slow the spread of the virus. obviously it was not a decision that i made lightly. i know that it is hard on people. i know that it is hard on businesses, on employees. i know that this is not what we're accustomed to. and i, like you, look forward to the day when we are past this. when that comes, i don't know. i can't give you a time frame on that.
but what is essential now is that we do our part, flatten the curve, so that we extend the duration of this event and not have it peak all at one time and people who are ill are presenting themselves to the hospitals and we don't have the capacity to render the care that they're going to need. and in order to make this decision, i've done the very best that i could to look at what the science is telling us. and to rely on authoritative sources like the centers for disease control, and looking into the information that's being provided from the folks here on the ground, the department of health, the office of public health, talking to our hospital c.e.o.'s and so forth, but i also have had the opportunity, and i thank them for it, to have personal conversations with individuals
such as an admiral in the u.s. public health service, but also the surgeon general, dr. jerome adams. even had a conversation the other night with dr. anthony fauci. when we maximize the use of science to inform our decisions, we minimize the role of politics in the decision. and that's what we're trying to do here. there simply isn't any room for politics in this. will so, i need for people to take the order seriously. so far i've been encouraged by what i've seen. the mitigation measures that we are taking now will pay off down the road when we see that curve begin to flatten. and the demands placed on our health care system reduced. so i ask everyone, before you leave your house, is the trip that you're about to make important? is it essential? is this the second trip to the
grocery store today? can you wait until tomorrow, the next day, to go? and certainly this doesn't mean that you can't go outside at all. you can. you can go out, you can exercise, spend some time outdoors in your yard, take your dog for a walk and so forth. and understand that if you're an essential worker, and we identified those in the order, that you're not going to be able to stay home. i want you to know that we're grateful for everything that you're doing, even as you travel to and from work and what you're doing at work in order to practice social distancing and minimize contact and the spread of this particular virus. i also appreciate all of the employers, private and public, who have instituted large numbers of telework. people who are working from home, off of their computers and otherwise. that is very, very helpful. right now, i think it's just
imperative that we change our mindset on what it means to be a good neighbor. being a good neighbor right now means staying at home. stopping the spread and saving lives. doesn't mean you don't check up on your family and friends and your neighbors. give them a call. get on facetime with them, skype with them. i also want to remind that you we're replacing all of our updates on the covid-19 situation on our website. we have a dedicated page at gov.la.gov/coronavirus. sharing information is important for all of us right now. there are a few other ways you can also be a good neighbor. the first is to donate blood. our blood banks are in desperate need of donations.
if you're healthy, with no symptoms, i urge you to consider donating blood and giving that gift of life. and please understand that it is both safe to give and to receive blood. the second way you can help is by donating to a local food bank. food banks are in dire need right now as well. and they need money most of all. and you can do that from home. every dollar can provide up to four meals. this is something you can do from your couch without leaving the house. it also allows the food banks the flexibility to get items they need without impacting the supply chain. i know that many people do not have the means right now to give. and that's understandable. but if you do have the ability to donate without causing hardship on yourself and your family, please consider making a monetary donation to your local food bank and these donations can be made through email@example.com/lacovidd
firstname.lastname@example.org/lacovidd email@example.com/lacovidd firstname.lastname@example.org/lacovidd onate. we'll have that information up on the website for people too. finally, while everyone is spending more time at home and some people are going to be looking for some things to do, i'd encourage you to go ahead and get on the computer and fill out your census. get that information turned in. obviously it's not the most it is important, and i'm reminding people, the notices from this census bureau went out a couple, three weeks ago. most families should have them. if you have the opportunity to complete your census, please go ahead and do that. before i open up the floor for questions, i want to remind everyone that today, for me at least, and for likeminded individuals, is a day of fasting and prayer. i've told you quite often, i believe in the awesome power of prayer and i want to thank everyone who has joined in in doing this along with me today.
and my prayer is for the healing of those who are ill, protection for those who are on the front lines of our health care system and guidance for all of our nation's leadsers that we can navigate this crisis together, for the good of all our people, and i want to thank everyone, again, for being here today and i'm ready to take your questions. yes, sir. reporter: governor, last week you said the new orleans area was seven to 10 days away from running out of [inaudible] disaster declaration request, you used the date april 4. can you talk about what's changed in that time frame? what looks better for us right now? i assume it's updated modeling. governor edwards: better is very, very relative. if you will remember, last week when i said that, it was the first effort at modeling that we had and much of it was based on data that was relatively new. and that it was a worst-case scenario.
as we see the growth rates, as we see the number of covid-positive patients who have to be hospitalized, as we get a better idea of the percentage of people hospitalized who are going to need an intensive care bed and a ventilator, as we get a chance to see what the average stay in the hospital is going to be, then we're able to refine our estimates through the updated modeling. and so what you are referencing today, when we're pushing out the date in region one down around new orleans, where we think we might exceed our capacity to deliver health care to covid-19 patients, it would be in the april 4 or 5 time frame. as you can imagine, for the reasons that i just stated, that is going to be refined every day. it is my hope, it is my prayer, it's the reason we implemented the mitigation measures, the stay-at-home plan, that's the most important thing.
and i don't want the people of our state focusing primarily on the surge capacity. we're doing everything that we can to increase that capacity. but what i want people focusing on are the things that they can control and that is themselves, and whether they fully comply with the mitigation measures that we have in place around social distancing, stay at home and so forth. that is the most important thing for people to focus on. this is two parts. we have to flatten the curve so we don't put the demand on our health care system all at once, and we have to increase our capacity within that health care delivery system. yes, sir. reporter: following up to that, you talked about the models and the forecasting, the data and models you have right now, what is that possible overcapacity, that overwhelming -- what is that going to look like? what does that necessary entail should louisiana reach that? governor edwards: first of all, it obviously would be something that would be terribly unfortunate because we know that the overwhelming majority of
people who receive care when they need it, and that is appropriate to their condition, they're going to survive this. if we overwhelm our capacity to deliver that care, then we're going to have less people who will survive that could have. so obviously that is the worst possible outcome. and that is why we have to flatten the curve and surge our capacity to deliver health care. but this is the exact same situation that is playing out in most places in the country right now. i know that people saw the governor of new york this morning, for example, talking about this. but you've seen it play out in other places around the world. that's what we do not want to happen here in louisiana. and while we're still on the trajectory that we're on, we have still the third highest case count per capita in the country. while we're on this trajectory, we have to be intensely focus on -- focused on what we can to
flatten the curve. of all the messages that i deliver to the people of louisiana, at these press conferences, that is the single most important thing. while we've done the mitigation measures, while we're asking everyone to comply. don't go out if it isn't essential. minimize contact. practice all the measures that we've talked about. they remain important. we don't necessarily repeat them every time. but it's still important. wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water. if you don't have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer. stay six feet away from people. make sure you control your cough. if you are sick, do not get around other people. and understand that the most vulnerable people in our state remain those who are older and those who have chronic health conditions. and so, you don't have to use your imagination to know what this looks like. you can see what's going on in
italy. that's what it looks like. and nobody should say, well, that's italy. it won't happen here. well, for what reason? would anybody believe that? if we don't flatten the curve? yes, ma'am, in the back. reporter: when you saw there were short lines at the drive-through testing center today in baton rouge, what are your thoughts on that and do you think that's a good sign of what's to come next? governor edwards: first of all, i don't have any thought relative to whether it's a good sign to what comes next. until the curve starts to flatten, i am not going to draw an easy breath. it is just that simple, but i can tell you, our testing has ramped up across the state in multiple locations. i think we have over 8,500 tests -- i think it's 8,603 test results total that are informing our case count today. that's up from 6,000 yesterday. this is a good thing. because you never want to be in the blind about what you're dealing with.
the more testing that we have, the more results that come in to our data, the better the decisions that we can make about what we're facing. i really appreciate the efforts that have been made here in baton rouge, but also all around the state of louisiana. we're seeing many more entities like hospitals doing their own testing in-house. we're seeing drive-through testing in new orleans, at two stations, one in jefferson parish, but also opening in lafayette at the cajun dome and it's going to be open soon in lake charles. the more testing, the better. this is the one thing that south korea did that really helped them to flatten the curve. they were much -- they had much more testing capacity early on and the through-put lab capacity to get those results out, and get people into isolation, get people into quarantine, and do the contact tracing. why is this important? because people who become
symptomatic today might have been exposed to week ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago. that's why it's going to take some time for us to know what that curve is doing, even if everyone is practicing perfect social distancing today. it's going to take a while. so we have to be patient with this. we have to stick with it. until we know exactly what's playing out. yes, sir. reporter: you talked about louisiana having the fastest growth of this in the world. highest per capita in the -- third highest per capita in the country. you have been given any reason or a list of facts that are have contributed to it being much worse here than in other parts of the country and the world? governor edwards: no. i will share with you a theory. i'm not an epidemiologist and the studies haven't been done, obviously. but the first confirmed case in the state of louisiana, the first person who tested positive, did so 13 days after fat tuesday. and just -- and did so in the new orleans area. and if you look at how long it
takes from exposure before people become symptomatic and start testing positive, that's the period you're talking about. between two and three weeks. i happen to believe with people coming from all over the country and all over the world into new orleans that a fair amount of coronavirus was seeded in that area, if that's the right word. but that is a theory at this point. it may or may not prove correct, but what isn't a theory, what is fact is what's actually happening on the ground. and we know that it's serious we know that case count is much, much higher than we obviously want it to be. and we haven't yet seen the trajectory change with respect to our growth rate. so those are the things we're focused on. at some point, somebody's going to get a doctoral degree because they're going to do a study on this situation as it relates to louisiana and so forth. and i'll be interested in reading it, but until then, you just have to
deal with the facts. reporter: president trump today talked about he wanted the economy to be back up and working by easter, which is less than three weeks. he seems to be tilting more toward wanting businesses to reopen. do you think that's a realistic timetable for louisiana or is that too optimistic? governor edwards: i think it may be a realistic timetable for certain places in the country. until we see the curve flattening and we can see daylight at the end of this tunnel, it's hard for me to pick a date on the calendar and say, by this date, we believe we're going to be out on the other side. look, nobody wants people to go back to work more than i do. nobody wants these businesses to open. nobody would love more than me for this to play out between now and easter and on the monday after easter, which is, by the way, the day my proclamations expire. so -- but i have every intention
of looking at the facts as we approach april 13 and if necessary, we'll extend some or all of the measures that we've taken. quite frankly, it's hard to see the economy coming back and businesses opening in a robust fashion and people resuming their business to louisiana, and tourism picking up where it left off, if we are struggling to deliver health care in the state of louisiana. and so i think the best thing for us right now is to focus on these mitigation measures, making sure that they are effective. and to the degree that we are successful, we will hasten the day when we can reopen all sectors of our economy and get things going. look. we had the fourth fastest growing economy in the country when this hit us. i want that to happen, too. but my first priority is for the health and safety of the people
of louisiana. and we're going to rely upon science, we're going to rely upon the c.d.c., we're going to rely upon the advice that we're being given by the medical community as to what we need to do. and until we tackle the medical challenges in front of us, it is very difficult for me to see the economy coming back. under any circumstances. reporter: seems less and less likely that school will resume this year. if it does not, will those students be -- all of the students, testing has been waived, will they be pass aid long to the next level? governor edwards: i don't have an answer for you on that question. it is a good question. and i'm not trying to dodge you. i just haven't heard from the department of education and what their plans are. i know they're going to be working on this going forward. right now, we have not called off school for the rest of the year. they're scheduled to reopen on
april 13. that may or may not be possible. for the reasons that we've been talking about here this morning. and i know that the interim superintendent, for education in louisiana, she's working right now with her staff and with the board and with all of our district superintendents and so forth to figure out what happens under two or three different contingencies. one is school resumes on april 13. the other is school resumes at some date subsequent to that. and the third one would be that it doesn't resume at all during this current academic year. and when they have more information, they will be sharing that. until then, i do want to remind people of what we've already done. and i have, by executive order, suspended the statutory requirements related to end of course testing and evaluations and school letter grades.
the instructional minutes that each school has to offer. the number of days that students have to attend and so forth and so on. and it is my understanding that we have received the waiver necessary from secretary devos, the u.s. department of education secretary, because under the "every student succeeds act," we actually have basically a contractual agreement with the federal government that we will engage in all of those measures that we have suspended. i don't want anyone to worry that they'll have to go back to school and pass a leap test and so forth. but as far as promotions and graduations, we have information coming out on that, hopefully soon. we'll relay that information. in the meantime, i am encouraging every parent or caregiver out there who has a student at home to make sure that student is engaged in reading. in instructional materials. distance education, if it's
available. there are many, many resources available and this is being communicated to parents, to teachers, to schools from the department of education and from a number of sources. you know, i did a program last night at l.p.b. i know that l.p.b. has ramped up the resources it's making available, including instructional programming on tv. so this is all important so we don't see a lot of regression in our students for the time they'll be out of school. and i know that this is very, you know, disturbing to some people to have schools closed and to have these students at home and not in the classrooms and it disturbs me as well but , it is part of the approach i believe we have to take if we're going to slow the spread and preserve for the maximum extent possible the health and safety , of our population. reporter: governor, the states identified two clusters so far of unidentified cases.
-- so far, of coronavirus cases. can you give us an update on those cases and do you know which other nursing homes? governor edwards: i'm going to ask the doctor to come up and answer those questions. we will see what he knows today. >> thank you, governor. so, to your first question about lambeth house, the total number of cases as far as i know is still 42. we have, unfortunately, had two additional deaths for a total of as you noted we have learned of 11. five cases at chateau deville, and we have additional clusters at chateau de notre dame. and chateau the st. james place. located?are those >> i believe st. james place is in baton rouge. >> the other is in donna saville
. reporter: you say about all those were clusters, but notre dame only had one case? >> there may or may not be a worker involved. that's what we're still investigating. the main point, my team came across the state department of public health, and as soon as there's someone with symptoms, we engaged the department of public health. it doesn't meet the definition of a cluster but we're trying to find out. are they taking the right measures? what we've been seeing from the nursing homes and across the state is they are being very proactive, taking seriously restrictions on visitation, trying to be creative about ways to keep families connected which is i think critical in this time of staying at home. so, often by the time we're reaching out to them, a lot of measures we're going to recommend, many of them are taken on board. reporter: to be clear, this is the entire facility? >> [indiscernible] governor edwards: and because we have these issues that the doctor just mentioned, yesterday we renewed our request for an
epidemiological team from the c.d.c. granteduest has been and we hope to have them on the ground here in louisiana very quickly to help us manage these particular situations. yes, sir. reporter: as far as fema, i know they've had some more national response in the last couple of days, as far as louisiana goes, what role is f.e.m.a. playing if any? obviously we have a lot more cases than in m states, as our response as far as testing being ramped up been a little bit faster because of the number of cases have seen? i am not able to compare and contrast what we are doing in louisiana with other states. i will tell you that the testing has ramped up in louisiana considerably. as i mentioned earlier 8,603 , tests informing our data today. it was 6,000 yesterday.
even at the state public health lab, the capacity has greatly ramped up. early on, one of the reasons our numbers were skewed is, we were testing people who were basically in the hospital with symptoms and they needed to be hospitalized. so you saw a large percentage of administeredng coming back as positive, and a large percentage of people who were positive being in hospital. as we get more test results informing our data, more test results, we will have a smaller percentage who are positive and a smaller percentage of those who are positive needing hospitalization. that's what we need to know to know what trajectory we're on to with respect to when we might eclipse our ability to deliver critical health care. but i am not able to compare and contrast what we're are doing with those states just now. reporter: when you submitted your request for a major disaster declaration you wrote that you had great concern for our health care workers, our emergency workers, was that the
tipping point for you asking for this assistance? and have you heard back? from the white house? governor edwards: we have not yet which, being region six, which is where they route these requests to, they support the request. but ultimately, it has to get to the white house and be favorably acted upon by the president. i do hope, actually believe, that that's going to happen sometime in the near future. it should make available to us more resources. i am going to say something, i am not diminishing the challenges being presented in any other state. whether it is new york or new jersey or washington state or any other stayed out there. i just don't want the federal government or anybody out there minimizing the challenges we have here in louisiana. as i mentioned before, the trajectory we're on is very problematic.
the growth rate that we're seeing, very problematic. number three in the country in terms of our per capita cases. and the reason this should inform decision-making about whether we are granted a major disaster declaration and the resources that flow to reas as a cash flow to louisiana as a result of that is, any state -- disaster declaration, and the resources that flow to louisiana as a result of that is, any state's health care system is sized to meet the needs of a given population. so more than anything else,s the per capita case number that indicates whether you are moving in a direction that can exceed the capacity to deliver health care. that's why we asked for this declaration to get more resources, whether it's beds, whether it's staffing whether it's p.p.e., ventilators, you name it. but the things we need here in louisiana are not different than things needed across the country. and again, i've said this before, i hope people will understand what i'm trying to communicate.
that's what make this is emergency, so different than any others that we may have faced. if we have a natural disaster, a hurricane, tornado, flood. then that's really bad. but it doesn't affect the whole country at once. so the federal government can really focus on the needs of louisiana in that situation and we're able to put in requests to sister states. and we love to help one another. but right now, there is not a lot of help coming from other states on our prayer grenades because these other critical needs the other states have as well, and they are keeping those resources and those people to meet their own needs. and i fully understand that. but that's what makes this particular situation so challenging. i believe a major disaster declaration would be helpful. in order to get the resources that we need to better cope with this emergency. melinda? reporter: governor, in that
letter, you talked about trying to use hotels in some sort of hospital capacity. have you started conversations with hotels? can you explain a little further what you're talking about and what you see happening in that? governor edwards: the conversations have started. we are looking at multiple options. obviously, we have to move quickly and we're going to have some announcements forthcoming, i'm not exactly sure when. but in the next day or two. so what we're doing is not altogether different than what new york is doing, for example. where we are trying to create additional capacity. this means beds, this means equipment, this means p.p.e., this means staffing. difficult to do. the first place you surge are within the existing hospitals. you have the ability to add beds and the staffing is still
challenging, but it is less challenging because you are doing it within the hospital. the second thing you do is you look into other facilities, the long-term acute care facilities , that have capacity. those rehab hospitals and so forth. but at some point, we know that if we get the trajectory wrong, we will exceed those capacities as well. so we're looking to create medical monitoring capacity or stepdown capacity. these are individuals who maybe covid-positive, but they don't require an intensive care bed. don't require a ventilator. but they're not ready to discharge home either. if we can get them out of those beds sooner, in the actual hospitals, then we can increase that surge capacity of the hospital itself. so we're going to be creating a number of beds, we're looking at different options, not just in new orleans but around the state, but new orleans first because that is where the
greatest need will present itself the soonest. so that's what we're working on. we'll have more information about that. reporter: the beds can be staffed by health care professionals? for people who need monitoring? governor edwards: these will be doctors and nurses, health care professionals. this is particularly challenging , you may know i requested yesterday four, i'm going to call them field hospitals, from the federal government with staffing. that would be 1,000 beds and staffing to meet the needs of 1,000 beds. we don't have an answer on either of those requests yet. but there are some different things that we can do via contracts and otherwise, in order to get the staffing that we need. but this is why we have been trying to source ventilators, p.p.e., you name it.
this is a challenging situation. wantcertainly people to be mindful of it, but i want people to understand the direct relationship between our need to increase our capacity , and the mitigation measures that we have implemented. that's why we're asking people to not go out and have contact isn'tthers when it essential that they do so. moreat we don't have people than is absolutely necessary going to the hospital in the short term. in order to consume what is going to be a precious resource. that's going to be that hospital bed. it's going to be that ventilator. it's going to be the time and attention of a doctor and a nurse and a respiratory therapist and so forth. that's why we're doing what we are doing. is to minimize what is going on on the other hand with respect to our surge capacity. reporter: how close is l.d.
close are you to adding regular covered patients to its dashboard? governor edwards: i'll let the doctor answer the question. it's difficult because, first of all, i think our first case is two weeks and a day old. right? so you typically have to go a 14-day period before -- and at one time you needed to have, once you were symptom-free for, i think, three days perhaps, you had to have a test negative and then at least 24 hours elapse and another test negative before you would be put in the recovery category. i'm not sure that's what is in place now, not just in louisiana but around the country. so we obviously were hoping and praying and working to make sure as many people recover as possible. capturing that data has proven more difficult than most people would think is reasonable. i am one of those people, by the
way. i'm not sure why it's been so hard. but i'm also not expecting immediately to have a large number of recovered people. but i think that over the coming days and weeks, we will be able to show some data on recovered folks. but doctor, come explain that better. >> i think that's exactly it. the challenge is, the growth in our numbers, i know that we keep saying it, the groupe danone numbers has been really tremendous. as you getreally on a new case, reaching out to that individual, finding out the context in which they had covid, anybody they might be in contact with, giving them advice on isolation and things like that. that same team, normally, if we were talking about a handful of cases, following up to see they are recovered, when we are adding 300 cases an evening we can't have the team deployed in that way. we've been looking at technology ways to get this information. bare minimum, as the governor said, is sort of just using a time limit. we know that most folks that have covid, their symptoms will resolve without needing medical attention.
most of the folks are not in the hospital. as we know about them we can set a time limit. we would like to have a little more information. more importantly, we would like to be what to support those individuals who are being diagnosed. we know the string it is putting on care providers, to give them advice as well. we're looking at solutions to serve a more important purpose, which is, continuing to get advice to the patient's, and we think that could serve as a result number. governor edwards: i learned something from dr. katherine o'neill last night, she's an infectious care disease specialist. p.b. program.e l/ with respect to covid-19, people are most infectious early on during their particular episode with this disease. they can still be symptomatic and sick but on the tail end of that, you are much less infectious. and it may not be infectious at all.
so what this means is people really need to take it upon themselves let when they first feel the symptoms, to isolate. that is when they are most likely to be shedding the virus and to be contagious. so everyone, and dr. sanjay gupta said this a long time ago. the easiest way for us to try to catch up with south korea, who was way ahead of us in the testing early on, and the isolation and quarantine with the contact tracing, is for people to behave today as if they have the coronavirus. and if we will do that if we'll just use that prophylactic measure that mitigation measure, as a proxy for the testing, we can flatten that curve. that is why we implemented these mitigation measures. i can see this is the day where the questions are going to go as long as i stand here, so we are going to -- i'll go to the back
of the room. reporter: are you looking into ways independent contractors can get special help since since they don't qualify for unemployment? governor edwards: we are. what we need to understand is that because they are not employees, nobody has been paying into the unemployment fund for them. study torry, they are not entitled to the $247 a week benefits. however, we are working with congressional delegation. we believe there will be some assistance. the bill is changing. it hasn't been passed yet. it is changing. but we think there could be some relief for those individuals in the third phase of the coronavirus relief package that we hope will come out of the senate today and then get quickly passed by the house. there's a lot of good things in there for businesses, for states, for health care providers, for workers. and so it's my hope that that will happen.
obviously, i have my hands full here in louisiana with what we're dealing with. but we are trying as best we can to analyze the legislation under consideration by every agency in the state of louisiana so that we're leaning forward and as soon as it passes we know the relief that it contains for louisiana, and that we can quickly access that relief for the entire state. reporter: can you talk about the burden on the the louisiana work force commission as they're seeing claims through the roof, website crashing. people are frustrated and maybe because they don't have people. governor edwards: it is tough. we have a call volume, a volume of people accessing the louisiana workforce commission through the internet to apply for unemployment benefits. at we have a tremendous team l.w.c. led by secretary -- by the secretary, they're doing tremendous work.
but the volume has never been experienced before in the state of louisiana. i'm asking people to be patient. if you are able, wait, don't try to do it doing 8:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. you can get on the internet at any time. you can call, they're working until 7:00 every night so call a little later. please be patient but do be persistent. one of the things we've done, we waived the week you'd typically have to wait between when you're applying and eligible and when you can start to receive them. the other thing i waived is the search requirement so that typically in order to continue to receive these unemployment benefits you have to be out and about looking for a job and documenting that, and proving that. so we've waived those things. for the benefit of employers out there, this period of unemployment, these claims, are not going to count against their
experience. so that's going to be helpful to those employers. reporter: have you secured the va hospital, you have asked the president specifically asked , him? governor edwards: that situation sort of, we thought there would be an opportunity there. there's not going to be because , quite frankly, the v.a. doesn't have much capacity either. it has a number of covid-positive patients that are consuming demand that exceed their normal. that is just not going to be a workable solution for us. yes, sir? reporter: between the food bank shortages you mentioned this morning, more difficult to access school lunches and now trouble with the economy, what are the odds people go hungry? governor edwards: well, obviously, we are working hard to prevent that from happening from a variety of perspectives. one is the logistics necessary to keep agriculture moving in the country and in our state has been preserved.
those were essential businesses. the logistics chain in order to make that happen with respect to trucking and warehousing and food delivery, the grocery stores themselves have been deemed essential infrastructure and workers essential. we are still working with our school food service offices. betsy is doing that through the department of education to try to keep feeding sites open. we are looking at new opportunities we may have in trying to get waivers necessary to fold in additional entities on food service and perhaps even restaurants, and it could be a way that they could keep their doors open, keep some income coming. but all of this is very serious. look, i am mindful that on our best days in louisiana, 25% of our children were challenged with nutrition. these are not our best days.
and so we need -- we need as much help as we can get in this area. and you know, we're mindful of these challenges and we're certainly doing what we can to implement strategies that are going to help address nutrition. and by the way, nutrition is very important throughout life. the other area where it's most important is for elderly people , who may be homebound. we are greatly ramping up food delivery, meal delivery through meals on wheels and council on aging and those sorts of programs as well. i'm going to take one more question and then that's going to be it. right here. reporter: you mentioned earlier that you were encouraged by what you've seen so far by the public , following the stay-at-home order and other restrictions you have put in place. what, i guess, specifically have you seen that has made you encouraged? it hasn't been around for super long.
just a day. governor edwards: i'm seeing leaders, political leaders, business leaders, religious leaders, come out and embrace and endorse the measures we have taken as being necessary. encouraging people to comply. we are seeing much more compliance. and this is relatively anecdotal. and you probably are doing much more riding around than i am. but we don't see the traffic out on the street that we were seen before. so just all of this and in talking with other elected leaders, mayors and so forth, i know from speaking to the mayor of new orleans, she told me she's seeing a lot more compliance, for example, in new orleans. we still have a ways to go, however. because i know we're not perfect. and i know that there's still individuals out there who may be -- who maybe haven't take then seriously yet. best taken this seriously yet -- who maybe haven't taken this seriously yet.
we're running out of time. again, everybody has a role to play and it's critically important that everybody play that role. it is to comply with these mitigation measures, stop unessential travel. stop making contact with other people. and just, you know, do it because you're concerned about your neighbor. you're concerned about your brother and sister. it's just important that we do this. look, i want to thank y'all for coming out today. we will let you know when the next press briefing is going to be. i will finish as i typically do, and that is, i'm going ask everyone to work as hard as you can, so we can flatten the curve as soon as possible. and for some of you, even though -- i know there's a lot of anxiety out there, the work i'm asking you to do is stay at home. stay home. stop the spread. save lives. and i do encourage everyone to join me in prayer so that we can get through this as soon as possible and in the best shape possible. thank you all. [cameras shuttering]
>> wednesday, the white house coronavirus task force provides an update on the outbreak and the federal government's response. watch live wednesday at 5 p.m. eastern on c-span. ♪ >> television has changed since c-span began 41 years ago, but our mission continues. to provide an unfiltered view of government. already this year, we brought you primary election coverage, the presidential impeachment process, and now, the federal response to the coronavirus. you can watch all of c-span's programming on television, online, or listen on our free c-span radio app. and be part of the conversation through c-span's daily "washington journal" program, or our social media feeds. c-span created by private
industry, as a public service, and brought to you by a local cable provider. >> now, governor gavin newsom provides an up date on the coronavirus response in california. totalked about efforts obtain additional protective equipment for medical workers and the importance of social distancing among all age groups following the death of a california teenager from covid-19. governor newsome: good evening everybody. i just had a remarkable meeting with the team from uss mercy. what weived here to refer to as the state operation center, where i am currently filming this facebook live. they assembled the uss mercy. it is on its way to los angeles and will be arriving this friday. as early as this weekend, it will be