Could Baton Rouge return to phase one? Broome to discuss COVID-19 surge Thursday

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome will hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the current surge of COVID-19 in the parish. 

Whether the mayor will announce that Baton Rouge is returning to phase one remains unknown, as Broome’s spokesman, Mark Armstrong, declined on Monday to disclose the nature of her planned remarks. 

However, he noted that Broome will “discuss any next steps” related to the virus during the news conference, which is set to take place at 1:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the downtown library.

It’s been less than one week since New Orleans reverted to a “modified phase one,” which involved further limiting capacity at businesses due to a sharp rise in cases. Armstrong says the Baton Rouge area is also “currently experiencing a dangerous spike” in COVID-19 cases.

Local business owners remain nervous about the potential for tightened restrictions.

In a prepared statement emailed yesterday to Daily Report, Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said that while reducing the spread of the virus is the only way to achieve full economic recovery, placing that burden on the shoulders of the hard-hit leisure and hospitality industry does not seem “prudent or effective,” pointing to data showing that the rapid acceleration of the virus spread is not coming from interactions at businesses, but rather from smaller, private gatherings.

“Individual commitment to take seriously the guidance in place would be more effective at slowing the spread, without pushing more businesses over the brink of closure and forcing more people onto unemployment rolls,” Knapp said.

In the meantime, Armstrong encourages everyone to wear a mask, frequently wash their hands and avoid others outside their households.