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Louisiana pushes back next reopening phase by four weeks as coronavirus cases spike

Louisiana pushes back next reopening phase by four weeks as coronavirus cases spike
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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Monday he is pushing back the state's next reopening phase for at least four weeks as the state's number of new coronavirus cases spikes. 

Edwards said Louisiana will remain in phase two of its reopening for another 28 days, and in two weeks, officials will conduct “another deep data dive” to assess whether or not the state can push forward to the next phase.

He announced 461 new coronavirus cases, pushing the state’s total over 50,000. He also announced 11 new deaths, bringing Louisiana's total fatalities to more than 3,000 

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The governor said the case growth is “more than can be fairly attributed to the growth in testing.” 

“It’s pretty clear that we now have more COVID-19 across the state of Louisiana,” he said, noting that the “vast majority” of new cases are related to community spread.

Statewide, there are 630 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 69 on ventilators. The number of hospitalized patients is the most in the state since June 2, Edwards said. 

“This is the number that concerns me the most, not that today we’re on precipice of not having the capacity we need to deliver care, but it is a trend in the wrong direction that we need to stop just as soon as we possibly can, so we never get close to lacking the capacity to deliver care in our hospitals to people who need to be hospitalized,” Edwards said. 

He added that Louisiana is among at least 23 states as of Monday where cases are increasing, and, based on a White House coronavirus task force call he was on Monday morning, cases “appear to be increasing most across the South.” 

“That should put an end to the theory that the summer, with its increased heat and humidity, would cause the virus to sort of disappear,” Edwards said. “That's not happening in our country and it's certainly not happening in the hottest and most humid part of our country.”

Louisiana entered phase two of its gradual reopening on June 5. The second phase allowed places of worship, restaurants, shopping malls, gyms, salons, movie theaters and other businesses to open at 50 percent capacity.