BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards is requesting a major disaster declaration for Louisiana as the number of cases of COVID-19 grows.

The declaration would allow the federal government to provide additional support for state and local agencies in dealing with the health threat. 

“It is still impossible to know exactly how long the COVID-19 pandemic will impact Louisiana, but what we do know is that we have more cases per capita than every state, except for New York and Washington," Edwards said. "Sadly, 34 people have died in Louisiana and our case count continues to rise, which is why we need additional federal aid.

"We have overwhelmed our stocks of key resources needed for our hospitals, first responders and emergency managers," he continued. "There will be a long-lasting impact on the state of Louisiana, and we have taken aggressive mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19. I have been appreciative of the support of the federal government, especially Vice President Mike Pence’s COVID-19 task force, and I am hopeful FEMA will quickly approve our request as we continue our response and work towards recovery.”

Edwards previously issued a public health emergency on March 11 in response to the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana. So far, COVID-19 has affected 1,172 people in 44 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.

The federal government already has declared major disasters in California, Washington and New York, three other hotbeds of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy announced a $31 million FEMA grant meant to help his state increase medical services and supplies.

"The federal and state governments are committed to doing whatever it takes to protect local communities from the coronavirus–and to doing it quickly," Kennedy said. 

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