According to the Louisiana governor, as of today, Friday, September 11, Phase 3 is in effect statewide. After days of contemplating whether or not Louisiana is ready to proceed in the coronavirus recovery plan, Governor John Bel Edwards publicly announced his decision to move forward yesterday. Click here to watch the press conference in which Gov. Edwards reported that the state will graduate to Phase 3 status, starting today. In a press release, Gov. Edwards explained that "the data is positive enough that we will be going into Phase 3, and we will get deep into the weeds with you all about Phase 3 tomorrow."
What Will Phase 3 Look Like?
While Gov. Edwards released his decision yesterday, he did not explain what Phase 3 will look for Louisiana. Today he is expected to further describe the criteria for Phase 3. According to the CDC's guidelines on the White House's website, Phase 3 is prescribed to "States and regions with no evidence of a rebound and that satisfy the gating criteria a third time." Click on the hyperlink above to review the gating criteria, which, loosely, includes a "downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period" and a "downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period." The CDC's guidelines for Phase 3 include no restrictions on employees returning back to work, the resumption of visiting hospitals and senior care facilities, the reopening of large venues ("movie theatres, sports venues, and places of worship") with limited social-distancing guidelines, and the resurgence of bars with an augmented maximum occupancy.
Gov. Edwards emphasized that "we need to understand [that] Phase 3 is not a lifting of all restrictions. It's not an announcement that COVID is no longer in Louisiana." He also stated that if COVID cases rise again, he will reconsider what is best for the state.
While the new rules and restrictions Gov. Edwards plans on enforcing are vague, he has emphasized the continuation of the mask mandate. Click here to check for the governor's press release on the specifications of Phase 3.
How Will This Affect NOLA?
While Phase 3 guidelines are in effect statewide, New Orleans will have the same Phase 2 restrictions in place, as announced yesterday by Mayor LaToya Cantrell during a press conference. The vagueness of the governor's decision majorly influenced her to make this choice; she explained, "It's very difficult for me to respond when I don't have the information." Mayor Cantrell has reported that her main concern is getting students back into schools, which, according to her Facebook page, will begin this upcoming Monday, September 14. She declared that "We will remain in place, and we will continue to let the data guide us."