In an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Sunday issued a statewide stay-at-home order that affects the entire state. The order will force certain non-essential businesses and force others to operate with limited staff.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday.

“But nobody should wait until 5 o’clock tomorrow to be a good and responsible citizen,” Edwards said.

Two weeks ago, the state had no confirmed cases of the virus. Last weekend, the state was up to 90. As of Sunday morning, there were more than 800 confirmed cases, a nearly tenfold increase in a week. Edwards said that according to an analysis, the state now has the highest growth in confirmed coronavirus cases of any state or country on earth.

“There is no reason to believe we won’t become the next Italy,” where COVID-19 cases have overwhelmed the healthcare system, Edwards said. “We have the fastest growth rate in confirmed cases in the world, right here in the state of Louisiana.”

Under the order, essential business such as grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. Restaurants, as well, will be allowed to continue to serve customers through carry-out, delivery and drive-through. Dine-in has been suspended for several days. Louisiana residents are allowed to go outside, including for exercise, but are being told to keep in groups of 10 people or less and to keep a safe distance from one another.

Edwards’ stay-at-home order mirrors measures that have already been implemented in New Orleans, the epicenter of virus transmission in the state. It closes amusement facilities, malls, barber shops and beauty salons.

Essential businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, utility providers and healthcare providers, among others. The full list of essential businesses and closed businesses is available in Edwards’ latest proclamation.

One provision that had not previously been in effect in New Orleans will limit certain businesses — considered non-essential but not yet ordered closed — to limit their on-site staff to essential employees, with a cap of 10 employees per businesses. Others are being urged to work from home when possible. Childcare facilities will remain open as long as they follow state guidelines on hygiene and screening for illness.

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...