Louisiana governor delays next phase of coronavirus reopening because of spike in cases

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday said he is postponing the date for his state to move into its third reopening phase for at least 28 days amid a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the past two weeks.

Out of 23 states across the country experiencing an increase in COVID-19, Louisiana ranks seventh, the governor’s office said. Neighboring states such as Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Georgia are also experiencing spikes in coronavirus.

“Louisiana reached two sad milestones today as we surpassed 3,000 deaths and 50,000 positive tests in our state,” Edwards said in a press release. “It is clear that COVID is alive and well in Louisiana, and as we see more people testing positive and admitted to hospitals, we simply are not ready to move to the next phase, and ease restrictions further as businesses open widely.”

Prior to Edwards’ announcement, the state was set to enter Phase 3 of reopening on Saturday.

The Democratic governor announced 461 new coronavirus cases and 11 new deaths. He said when making the announcement Monday the spike in cases was “more than can be fairly attributed to the growth in testing.”

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He said that 90 percent of new cases are coming from the community and not “congregate settings” like nursing homes.

“While we know that increasing testing means that we will see more positive cases, we are still troubled by the rising case counts across the state, especially since around 90 percent of these new cases are coming from the community and not from congregate settings like nursing homes,” Edwards added.

"The fact of the matter is it is very clear to me if we were doing a better job of adhering to mitigation measures we wouldn't be seeing these increases today," said Edwards, who again implored people to wear masks and practice social distancing. He called it “incredibly disappointing” that some still refused to wear masks.

Statewide, 630 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, the most in the state since June 2, Edwards said. Still, Edwards said hospitals were “nowhere near” exceeding capacity.

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Louisiana entered Phase 2 on June 5. The second phase allowed restaurants, shops, salons, movie theaters and gyms to reopen at 50 percent occupancy. Bars were allowed to open at 25 percent capacity.