Jerome Adams, John Bel Edwards

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, left, flanked by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, speaks at a news conference at the Louisiana State Capitol on March 12, 2020.

(The Center Square) – The U.S. government has approved Louisiana’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration, opening the door to additional federal funding as the state attempts to mitigate the public health impact of COVID-19.

Louisiana, particularly the New Orleans area, has been a hotbed for coronavirus infections, possibly due to the Mardi Gras festivities held in late February. Louisiana is the fifth state to have a COVID-19 disaster declared by the federal government; California, Iowa, New York and Washington are the others.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says health care capacity in the New Orleans area could be overwhelmed by April 4. His disaster declaration request says “effective response” to the crisis is “beyond the capabilities of the state and local governments” and requests supplemental resources for governments and disaster relief organizations as well as insurance compensation for disaster-related losses.

Individual assistance could include unemployment assistance, disaster care management, crisis counseling, and assistance with medical, childcare and funeral expenses. Edwards is requesting 100 percent federal funding for emergency work under the Stafford Act and 100 percent federal funding for “homeland security defense activities.”

As of the most recent update mid-day Tuesday, Louisiana had 1,388 reported cases of COVID-19 and 46 deaths. Orleans Parish alone had 675 cases and 26 deaths, while neighboring Jefferson Parish had 293 cases and six deaths.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.