By Message Staff
BATON ROUGE, La. (LBM) – Louisiana will remain in Phase Two of reopening the state’s economy, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday.
During a news conference, Edwards said that he had hoped to move into Phase Three on Friday, which would have eased additional restrictions. The state has been under the current order since June 5.
Under the order, churches will continue to be restricted to 50 percent capacity, and, a 250 person indoor maximum was added.
Edwards said the decision was based upon data from the Louisiana Department of Health showing that new novel coronavirus related cases and hospitalizations have increased statewide. He said the state has seen an increase of hospitalizations in three regions, and ranks seventh out of 23 states across the nation experiencing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. He added that Louisiana surpassed 50,000 positive cases and 3,000 deaths on Monday. The state’s population, according to the U.S. Census, is estimated to be around 4.6 million.
“We have to continue to work to flatten the curve, to keep it flattened and make sure that we are moving in the right direction as it relates to case growth and to hospitalizations,” Edwards said. “I am convinced we shouldn’t need new restrictions in order to make this happen. We just need to follow mitigation measures better that we already have in place.”
The order will be extended another 28 days when the current one expires Thursday. Edwards encouraged Louisianans to wear masks whenever they are out in public, practice social distancing, frequently wash their hands and avoid going out in public if they are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms.
He said while some Louisianans have followed proper mitigation measures, others have not taken the virus seriously. He referenced recent outbreaks tied to Tigerland bars near the LSU campus and graduation parties in New Orleans as contributors to rising numbers of positive cases. Edwards noted while most young people experience no to few symptoms, they could spread the virus to older adults.
“We do have a new normal whether we like it or not,” Edwards said. “There are a lot of people out there who are saying they are done with this virus. Well, the virus isn’t done with us.”