Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to announce on Monday whether Louisiana has made enough progress suppressing the spread of the coronavirus to further loosen restrictions on businesses and gatherings. But should the state move into Phase 2 of its reopening at the end of the week, it will likely do so without a full understanding of whether the relaxed restrictions that have been in place since the middle of May have allowed the virus to spread at an increased rate. And, perhaps critically, the state will already be days into a regime of looser restrictions before it is known whether parties or travel during the Memorial Day weekend resulted in new infections that could seed a new surge, epidemiologists and some health officials said.
The limited reopening, however, came with the risk that more activity could reverse the improving trajectory the state has been on. Though there’s no evidence of that yet, experts say the relatively short amount of time that has passed and the relatively long time it takes for those infected to start showing symptoms means it’s still too early to have a sense of whether that happened.“It’s only two weeks at that point, and looking at the data, I do not know how the governor decides at that point,” said Dr. Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, an associate professor at the LSU Health Sciences School of Public Health and an expert in pandemics who has been consulting with the Edwards’ team.