Louisiana on Tuesday became the fourth U.S. state to record more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths, following New York, New Jersey and Michigan. Governor John Bel Edwards said it was a "grim milestone."
The state's death toll jumped past 1,000 after officials reported 129 new deaths on Tuesday. It was Louisiana's highest one-day spike in coronavirus deaths so far.
"They are our neighbors, friends and coworkers," Edwards, a Democrat, said during his daily coronavirus press briefing. "They are more than just a number on a report or graph, and as our fellow Louisianans, we all grieve alongside their families."
As of Wednesday morning, Louisiana has confirmed 1,013 deaths from the virus, according to the state's health department. The state has reported 21,518 confirmed cases overall, with more than a quarter of them in the New Orleans area.
Edwards said that despite the death toll, there are hopeful signs that the spread of the virus is slowing down. He noted that the number of hospitalizations, the number of patients needing ventilators and the number of new cases confirmed daily have all been going down. He said deaths are not necessarily an indicator of the virus' current spread, because state data shows most patients died 11 days after first showing symptoms.
Edwards also announced Tuesday that Louisiana schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year, and that the state's presidential primary is pushed back to July 11.
New York leads the nation in overall coronavirus cases, with more than 203,000 confirmed, and deaths, with more than 10,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New Jersey has reported 2,805 deaths, and Michigan has reported 1,768. Massachusetts was just under 1,000 deaths as of Wednesday morning, with 957 confirmed.
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