Category: Health and Wellness

Five Weeks to Fix It | Phase 3, Anyone?

We recently published a Straight Talk piece about what Phase 2 reopening looked like in Louisiana and how we could possibly move to Phase 3 by the first week in July …  IF we stayed on the same COVID-19 trajectory, with lower rates of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We were all looking forward to a Phase 3 re-opening so that our businesses could get back to operating, more folks could start going back to work, and the state’s economy could start humming again.

Not to be, I’m afraid. Today, as I write this (week of 6/26), we are backsliding noticeably in terms of COVID-19. I’m afraid many of our friends and neighbors in Louisiana have ignored repeated warnings from our Department of Health, the Governor’s Office and even me, through past Straight Talk articles. They’ve stopped wearing masks and practicing social distancing, and have started gathering in large numbers for noisy, tightly packed events.

This has led to a resurgence of what the health experts call “community spread.” That means we can’t blame the increase in new cases on institutional spread through close settings like prisons or retirement homes, or through more testing turning up more positive cases in people who didn’t have symptoms. Nope, these are cases resulting from people who have COVID-19, some of whom may not even know it, gathering, infecting more people and then moving on. It’s sort of the worst-case scenario if we are trying to return Louisiana to a normal economic footing.

YOU Can Stop Us from Moving Backward

ICU bed utilization is trending up again. Even with much tighter criteria for their use, the number of folks on ventilators is also growing again, after going down for almost two straight months. And worst of all, deaths from COVID-19 are also trending up again. (If you are curious about this data, go to and flip through the charts.)

So, as a larger and larger share of our population chooses to ignore the risks, we are rapidly putting our economic futures, as well as the future health of everyone around us, in jeopardy. All bad.

So, Mike, is all the news bad? Don’t you have anything positive to say?

Best I can manage for you right now, my friends, is to remind you that I have an undying faith in the good sense of the people of Louisiana. That good sense could kick in any minute, and people will make an effort to NOT keep torpedoing our recovery here. That good sense could remind people to wear masks in public. To avoid mass gatherings of people who are shouting, singing and/or not wearing masks. That good sense means leaving at least six feet between you and the next person. And, that good sense means we will only leave home and potentially expose ourselves to the public when we need to. Not just for the fun of it.

What Happens If Things Don’t Improve?

I don’t know if people realize it, but we are at a crucial moment in our recovery. We could easily backslide right now and have to go back to a stay-at-home order. Is that what we really want? Do we really want to set our economy back even more than the hit its already taken in 2020?

That feels so wrong, and so irresponsible right now. I know we can do better. Can’t we?

Think about things like the federally enhanced unemployment payments. Hundreds of thousands of Louisianans right now are only getting by because of those payments. Their jobs were shut down by a combination of COVID-19 and really low oil prices. Those hundreds of thousands of people are going to need to have a job to go back to on July 31 when those payments are scheduled to end. It’s going to be critical that we can re-open our economy by July 31.

On our current trajectory, those 300,000 – 400,000 people who are currently out of work are going to stay unemployed if COVID-19 cases are still growing and the economy is prevented from fully reopening. So, we have five weeks to turn this around.

Five Weeks – Start Now!

Better get busy. Put on that mask. Keep your distance. Avoid unnecessary exposure to other people. Wash your hands a lot. Don’t touch your face. Stop gathering with a bunch of people whom you don’t live with and you’ve never even met, let alone you know their COVID-19 status.

Straight Talk is, we’ve got five weeks to fix this, or else a whole bunch of people are going to run out of money and not be able to go back to their jobs. It’s up to all of us to do the right thing for them and ourselves and get back on track.

Posted on: June 25, 2020

4 comments on “Five Weeks to Fix It | Phase 3, Anyone?

  1. Micheal A Moss

    Could it posibly be not OUR fault?
    Increased testing has revealed more positive cases and false positives?
    Skewing the numbers by applying Covid diagnosis to cases the were not in fact Covid? (Nah they really wouldn’t that ,,, would they???
    Any hurumphs????

    • Michael Bertaut

      Fortunately, BCBSLA is in a tight partnership with LDOH and we see tons of claims data, so I am VERY confident that upticks in cases are clear evidence of Community Spread of Covid-19. Average daily hospitalizations from Covid are clearly going back up. Keep in mind, as people recover, or pass away, they are removed from those rolls. That means when total hospital cases goes UP, we’ve back-filled those who went home, or passed away, AND added more people so sick from Covid that they need hospitalization.

      No, denial is still a river in Egypt. Louisiana is slipping on Covid, the evidence is clear as day. We all need to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us by masking, social distancing, and lots of hand washing. Stay out of crowds of people drinking. If we don’t get the state to Phase 3 by the end of July, what’s going to happen when 300,000 people lose their enhanced federal unemployment and have no jobs to go back to? That really worries me.

      No hurrumphs here. Just the hard stuff. Straight from me!

      Take care, Mike, you and me BOTH should be avoiding this Covid stuff!….mrb

  2. Chad W

    While I agree with what you are stating, people in Louisiana and many other states just don’t care, because they do not want to be inconvenienced for a little while by wearing a mask in public settings.

    The Governor will not be able to close the state down a 2nd time, without force, which I do not see happening with the current climate. The people of these states are already struggling and I foresee that they will not accept the state preventing them from making money or essentially bankrupting their small businesses. It is no longer economically feasible to attempt another shutdown. Therefore, all of Louisiana is going to have to just ride this out and the hospitals will have to do their best to alleviate the situation. We just have to hope they do not endanger the ones who are compromised by this virus.

    I wish there was a smooth transition here like Europe, but unfortunately there are several hard-headed people that will continue to cause an issue with this.


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