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The Concordia Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) reported three new confirmed COVID-19 cases, upping the total confirmed cases parishwide to 95.

In the meantime, Louisiana will advance to Phase Two of President Trump's Opening Up America Again plan, greatly relaxing the social distancing restrictions established more than two months ago to stem the spread of COVID-19.

In Concordia, the three new cases were reported from May 29 to June 2.

New cases included: 25-year-old African American female, 22-year-old Caucasian female and a 49-year-old African American female.

Of the total confirmed cases, 76 are African-American, 17 Caucasian and two Hispanic.

Sixty-two cases are female and 33 are male.

OHSEP reported 42 active cases, 47 inactive cases and six deaths.

The age range for patients is from the 20s to the 80s.

In a news conference on Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he would sign the Phase Two proclamation on Thursday.

“I do believe it is appropriate to transition into Phase Two,” Edwards said.

Phase Two is expected to allow businesses to increase their capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent. The change applies to restaurants and bars that serve food, churches, barbershops, casinos, gyms and retail establishments.

Other establishments may reopen with some limitations: bars that do not serve food, day spas, tattoo and massage parlors, children's museums, swimming pools, bowling alleys, skating rinks and event centers.

As of Tuesday, there were 40,341 cases of COVID-19 reported across the state as well as 2,690 deaths, according to the state Department of Health's Coronavirus tracker. More than 31,000 people were presumed to have recovered, according to LDH. In Ouachita Parish, some 1,260 cases of the virus have been reported in addition to 41 deaths.

“The state continues to see decreasing symptoms of COVID-19,” said Alex Billioux, Assistant Secretary for the state Office of Public Health. “Overall, our cases continue to decrease. And we continue to see a decrease in hospitalizations.”

“That progress continues, but it is not even across the state,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Research Council questioned whether LDH had released enough data to accurately reflect the state's progress.

“Due to reporting problems, some data is difficult to interpret, creating pockets of doubt about the real situation,” said PAR President Robert Travis Scott.

Though COVID-19-like illnesses are decreasing in northeastern Louisiana (also known as Region 8 in LDH maps), hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 symptoms are increasing in the region as of May 31. Cases in Region 8 have neither decreased nor increased in the region but have plateaued, according to LDH.

Increased testing, instead of COVID-19 transmission, could be the reason why cases of COVID-19 are not dropping off, according to Billioux.

Billioux said he believed statistics in northeastern Louisiana showed it was possibly bending the curve.

“Region 8 was a major area that was under-tested,” Billioux said.

Reliable treatments of COVID-19 continued to elude medical professionals, according to Billioux.

“We're not at that point where we know we can cure someone who has it, like we could with Hepatitis C,” Billioux said.

Edwards encouraged the public to frequent only those businesses that complied with the state's public safety measures.

“As businesses reopen, more people go in. It is more important than ever that people wear masks,” Edwards said. “We know the greatest danger of transmission is of an aerosol nature.”

When asked about the World Health Organization's recent direction that wearing masks was not needed, Edwards defended the state's public health officials' advice to continue wearing masks in public.

“I did not know that the WHO might not be encouraging people to wear masks,” Edwards said. “It's pretty clear to me that wearing masks are essential.”

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