Governor announces lawsuit to keep public health emergency in place

Attorney General says restrictions no longer apply
coronavirus
Photo credit Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced Monday afternoon he is filing a lawsuit challenging the petition from state lawmakers to overturn the public health emergency the governor declared regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Edwards says that despite what some lawmakers and Attorney General Jeff Landry say, the Phase Three restrictions are still in place.

The petition was signed by 65 House GOP lawmakers at the end of the special session amidst frustrations that legislative attempts to limit or eliminate the governor’s public health authority had failed. Many say their constituents feel the ongoing restrictions are hurting businesses and hampering the state’s recovery, but Edwards says that just doesn’t make any sense.

"Their point is to open up a few more businesses -- which ones are closed?" the governor asked. "We have some restrictions on bars but our businesses are open in Louisiana as much or more than our neighboring states."

Edwards says if his order is overturned, the state faces a series of challenges that could cripple their ability to respond to the pandemic. That includes blocking the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the agency taking point on state pandemic response, from procuring PPE for local governments, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities, and blocks block GOHSEP from providing additional nurses and doctors to medical facilities in areas that see a surge in cases.

Edwards said it would also prevent the National Guard from conducting local testing (they conduct about 1,000 tests a day), and keep them from processing and transporting pandemic supplies like PPE and testing kits around the state, or sanitizing nursing homes.