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'Preparedness, not panic' for coronavirus, Edward says

John DuPont
Plaquemine Post South
Plaquemine Post South

Coronavirus in Louisiana is more of a “when than if” situation, but residents should take an approach of preparedness rather than panic, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.

Edwards, in a speech to the Press Club of Baton Rouge, outlined the state’s plans shortly after he met with Louisiana’s first United Command Group about the state’s response to the virus.

No confirmed cases have been reported in Louisiana, but more than 60 cases have been reported in other parts of the United States. It has claimed two lives in the United States, but more than 3,000 among the 89,000 cases reported in 70 nations worldwide.

“While we currently do not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Louisiana, we do anticipate that we will in the future," Edwards said. “That’s why Louisiana’s Department of Health and other agencies have been planning for several weeks on how the state will respond to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health of the public.”

He urged residents not to panic, but said they should take the same precautions they utilize against flu and other previous epidemics.

“There’s not need to panic – it’s exactly the wrong thing to do – but we need to take it seriously, prepare and arm ourselves with facts.”

Despite the national hysteria, Edwards urged residents not to base their concerns on social media posts.

“If you haven’t heard it from the Department of Health, it’s not real,” he said.

While he did not downplay the significance of the coronavirus, chances of a flu remain much higher, he said.

“We’re still in flu season, so it’s still a good idea to get a flu shot,” Edwards said. “We expect to see case in Louisiana, so we want people to be prepared for that.”

Testing protocol will begin, but he said he expects most people will test negative.

The virus has been most prevalent in China, Japan, Korea and Italy. Approximately 40 Louisiana residents have recently traveled to affected nations and will undergo testing, Edwards said.

Some area residents have already been quarantined, including a group of girls from St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge who will remain out of school for 10 days as a precautionary measure.