- The Washington Times
Sunday, March 22, 2020

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana has joined New York, California and Illinois in issuing a statewide stay-at-home order to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the order at a news conference after having earlier closed schools, bars, clubs and other “nonessential” workplaces.

Louisiana has been hard hit by the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, last year and has since swept the globe. After New York and Washington states, Louisiana ranks third in the nation in per-capita infection rates.

“In the last two weeks, our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world,” Mr. Edwards said, citing a study from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. “This is why it matters.”

Experts believe the New Orleans carnival season, an international tourist destination that culminated in the Rabelaisian Mardi Gras on Feb. 25, may have served as a kind of petri dish to spread the virus.

As of Sunday morning, the Pelican State has seen 837 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, with 54% of those coming in New Orleans, according to the state Department of Health. New Orleans had issued a shelter in place order last Friday.

There have been 20 deaths linked to the virus in Louisiana, including a young woman who declined the test to see whether she was positive only to die in her home days later.

Governors in New York, California and Illinois had previously issued similar “stay at home” orders, while Ohio’s will go in place Monday. Some cities, such as Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City are also under shelter-in-place rules or will be Monday.

The orders do not amount to a lockdown, officials said.

Grocery stores and food production, pharmacies, health care, utilities, shipping, banking, law enforcement, and other government and emergency personnel remain open.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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