Louisiana is not ready to further loosen the restrictions placed on businesses meant to control the spread of COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards said June 22.
The decision comes amid a recent increase of cases that cannot be explained by an increase in the number of tests. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals also has been rising, and on June 22, the state reported its largest increase of hospitalizations since April.
The rising number of patients in hospitals, which was 630 at last count, is particularly troubling, though there are still enough hospital beds in every region to treat the patients that are coming in, officials said.
"It is a trend in the wrong direction," Edwards said.
Louisiana has recorded more than 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 50,000 total cases since the pandemic began. Officials believe almost 40,000 COVID-19 patients have recovered.
Louisiana since June 5 has been in “phase two” of the federal government’s road map to lifting restrictions. Under phase two, businesses and organizations in Louisiana have been limited to 50% of their normal capacity, while bars that don’t serve food are supposed to restrict themselves to 25% of capacity.
Workers who deal with the public are expected to wear masks and ensure customers can maintain distance between themselves and other patrons.
People who are considered to be particularly vulnerable to serious complications caused by COVID-19 because of their age or underlying health conditions are asked to stay home if possible, and everyone is asked to limit the number of trips they make outside the home.
“We are disappointed that the state is not yet moving to phase three of our recovery and hope that we can get back on track as soon as possible," Louisiana Association of Business and Industry President Stephen Waguespack said. "Since this pandemic started, the vast majority of Louisiana’s businesses have worked hard to follow health guidelines, but driving businesses and individuals into increasingly harmful economic conditions is a significant threat to everyone."