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Louisiana to enter Phase 2 reopening Friday, June 5

BATON ROUGE — Governor John Bel Edwards announced Monday that, following improvement in the COVID-19 outlook, Louisiana is ready to move to Phase Two of the White House’s reopening strategy on Friday, June 5.

In Phase Two, churches, places of worship and many more businesses will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity with social distancing, masks for public-facing employees and increased sanitation. In addition, the state strongly recommends that businesses consider offering temperature checks before a person can enter and posting the symptoms of COVID-19 outside with a request that symptomatic individuals not enter.

Open with 50 percent occupancy while maintaining social distancing:

  • Churches
  • Solo and non-contact sports
  • Playgrounds, outdoor play centers
  • Barbers and salons
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers
  • Malls
  • Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
  • Bars and breweries with LDH food permit
  • Theaters

Open with 25 percent occupancy seated:

  • Bars without LDH food permit

For a guide listing businesses that can be open at any given time, visit gov.louisiana.gov/page/can-this-business-open.

If businesses have questions regarding Phase Two reopening, please send them to stjohnstrong@stjohn-la.gov or register at opensafely.gov.

Phase Two in Louisiana will last at least 21 days. Because more businesses will be open to more patrons and because the CDC has clarified that the illness is most likely to spread through the air and not on surfaces, the order will strongly encourage individuals to wear masks whenever they are in public.

People who are at high risk for becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, including those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions, should still stay at home unless they are completing essential tasks, such as doctor visits or going to purchase medications, food or other necessary items.

The governor was advised by public health experts that Louisiana has seen decreasing reports of COVID-like illness, decreasing new case counts and decreasing hospitalizations in almost every area of the state. A few areas of concern still exist, but through contact tracing and frequent testing, the state is able to quickly track increases and work to prevent large outbreaks.

“The people of Louisiana have done an incredible job flattening the curve here, and I’m thankful for their compliance and hard work. Likewise, the state has matched their efforts by ramping up both testing and contact tracing. All of this has allowed us to get to a place where we can move into Phase Two on Friday,” Edwards said.

In April, the state reported a total of 22,764 new cases of COVID-19, and 1,623 new deaths. There were also 122,342 new tests reported in April, with a note that the LDH did a “recounting” of the statistic in mid-April, reporting nothing from April 22-25.

In May, the state reported a total of 11,915 new cases of COVID-19, and 824 new deaths. There were also 213,800 new tests reported in May. One of the state’s re-opening targets was the ability to complete at least 200,000 tests a month.

In terms of averages, the state reported 384.4 new cases each day in May, 26.5 new deaths each day, and 6,896.7 new tests each day.

Comparing the two months, the data shows:

New cases — 758.8 daily in April, 384.4 daily in May, for a decrease of 49.3 percent (or 374.4 fewer new daily cases, on average).

New deaths — 54.1 daily in April, 26.5 daily in May, for a decrease of 51 percent (or 27.6 fewer new daily deaths, on average).

New tests — 4,078.1 daily in April, 6,896.7 daily in May, for an increase of 69.1 percent (or 2,818.6 more new daily tests, on average).

In summation, despite the number of tests increasing by almost 70 percent in May, the average number of new cases diagnosed fell by 50 percent.

Other key statistics were also significantly down in May, compared to the end of April. On April 30, the state reported 1,601 COVID-19 patients in hospitals and 231 ventilators in use for those patients. On May 31, the state reported 678 hospitalizations and 84 ventilators in use.

— Justin Schuver of the Bogalusa Daily News contributed the state statistics for this report.