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Louisiana Could Have A Decision On Phase 3 Of Reopening As Soon As Wednesday

Ashley Dean
A sign outside Balcony Music Club in New Orleans. March 19, 2020.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’ll announce a decision as soon as tomorrow on whether the state will stay in Phase 2 of the coronavirus reopening plan or move to fewer restrictions in Phase 3.

Edwards said the decision — as all past ones — will be based on key indicators of the virus’s spread in Louisiana and will follow the guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“We’ve already ridden the crest of two surges. I’m not anxious to do it a third time. So we’re going to make prudent decisions based on where we are as a state,” he said during a press conference Tuesday.

Edwards also met with the Jefferson Parish Council on Tuesday. The council is pushing the governor to allow the loosening of his state-wide restrictions on a parish by parish basis. It passed a resolution to that effect on Sept. 1.

Members of the council expressed hope after the meeting that Phase 3 could be announced soon, but the governor gave no such hints.

Even in Phase 3, face coverings and masks would be required.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 13 new deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 4,955. Hospitalizations have also risen in the last day, as has the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators. The state also reported a low number of tests — a worrying trend fueled in part by the disruption of Hurricane Laura, and in part by the delay in reporting results over the long weekend.

The death toll from Hurricane Laura now stands at 25. About 12,700 people who were displaced the storm are being sheltered in Louisiana.

The number of customers without power was 137,921 as of noon Tuesday, and they are largely clustered in Southwest Louisiana where the effort to restore power will be lengthy, Edwards said. Boil water advisories remain in place for 93 water systems, and another 48 water systems remain down.

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