Public policy decisions that affect the health, safety and well-being of millions of people should be based on advice from physicians and scientists. That was the case with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to extend Louisiana’s stay-at-home order until May 15 in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Unfortunately, some members of the state Legislature reportedly want to substitute their judgment for that of the medical experts in Louisiana and the federal government by overturning the governor’s emergency declaration and immediately re-opening the state’s economy. Doing so could not only endanger public health, but also potentially jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support for vulnerable families during this crisis.
Even under optimistic projections, Louisiana’s economy will take a long time to recover. Federal emergency assistance will be critically needed to make sure families continue to have a roof over their heads and food to eat and that businesses have the capital needed to stay open. Overturning the governor’s emergency declaration puts much of that funding at risk.
One of the few bright spots in this pandemic is the way that political leaders in Washington and Baton Rouge have put some of their differences aside and work together to get aid where it’s needed. Now is not the time to backtrack. If there was ever a time for the Legislature to put partisan fights aside for the common good, this is it.