Gov John Bel Edwards.JPG

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a "Safer at Home" order Sunday afternoon, directing all Louisiana residents to shelter at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.

Edwards issued the order amid a COVID-19 outbreak across the country. As of Sunday morning, the state Department of Health reported 837 cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana as well as 20 deaths. LDH statistics showed four cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ouachita Parish.

During a news conference on Sunday, Edwards noted the rate of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana was higher per capita than other areas across the world.

"In the last two weeks, our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world," Edwards said. "This is why it matters."

Edwards noted that flattening the curve, or reducing the rate of COVID-19's spread among the state's population, would require more aggressive steps like a "Safer at Home" order.

"We can get past this but we're going to have to take these mitigation measures seriously," Edwards said.

The governor's office pointed out the order is mandatory and a "legally enforceable order."

A news release from the governor's office defines "safer at home as a "stricter form of social distancing."

"Safer at home means Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others), only go out for essential services, stay six feet or more away from others, don't gather in groups," stated the governor's news release.

The governor's office also listed what residents should and should not do until the Safer at Home order is lifted.

Residents may visit the grocery store, convenience stores; visit the pharmacy for health-related reasons; go to medical appointments; go to restaurants for take-out, delivery or drive-through; care for friends or family members, take walks or engage in outdoor activities; walk pets; receive deliveries from other businesses.

Residents "should not" go to work unless providing essential services, visit friends or family unless there is an urgent need, or visit loved ones in health care facilities except under extreme circumstances.

At the news conference Sunday afternoon, Edwards said there would be no border lockdown.

He also said LDH would update its website once a day instead of twice a day.

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