Gov. Edwards discusses COVID-19 testing procedures, doesn’t know economic impact yet

Louisiana News

John Bel Edwards

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference this afternoon in light of the state’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 coronavirus.

Edwards said that presumptive test still needs to be corroborated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but said the test is reliable enough for the state to start acting as if it were confirmed. Final confirmation may not come until later in the week from the CDC.

Commercial testing for the test should go live this week, said the governor. Those tests will be administered to those who show symptoms and who do not test positive for the flu virus. Currently, the state only has around 2,000 tests, and 15 people have been tested as of this afternoon. Multiple tests kits are used to diagnose the disease. Edwards said no one who meets the criteria has been denied a test.

While the state is not releasing much information on the person who has supposedly contracted the virus, he said an investigation is underway to interview anyone the patient was in contact with. If necessary, those people will also be tested and the overall risk to the state will be determined.

What Edwards could not project at this time is the economic impact the virus will have on the state.

“I don’t know what it will be, but it won’t be positive,” he said. Edwards said there is still some time before the state absolutely needs an accurate revenue forecast to build the state’s budget for next year, he said he expects there to be some sort of negative impact on the numbers — especially in light of the stock market losses of the last week.

Those revenue estimates have been highly contentious over the last couple of months as Edwards’ Republican opponents in the legislature are pushing a much more conservative budget estimate.

Edwards also said the state will be following the CDC’s and federal task force’s recommendations for the virus, including discouraging travel for the elderly and those who have chronic health issues. He said representatives from the state’s health care facilities would be meeting later this afternoon to discuss the matters further. More protocols could be developed or changed as the situation comes into a clearer focus.

For more information on the coronavirus, go to http://coronavirus.gov.

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