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Louisiana sees spike in COVID-19 cases, 24 more deaths reported

According to LDH officials, the Friday data includes cases confirmed by antigen tests, a new measurement tracking the rapid tests often used in hospitals.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana reported nearly 3,500 new coronavirus cases Friday in the third-largest single-day increase since the pandemic began in March. 

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 3,492 new COVID-19 cases confirmed since Thursday, bringing the state's total to 201,981. 

The data includes 7,296 "probable" COVID-19 cases alongside the 194,685 cases that have been confirmed. 

According to LDH officials, the Friday data includes cases confirmed by antigen tests, a new measurement tracking the rapid tests often used in hospitals.

It is unclear exactly how many of the new cases are attributed to the antigen tests. 

The state estimates that more than 176,000 of the people who have tested positive have recovered since March. 

While Friday marks the third-highest day by case count, at least one of the days where more cases were reported was caused by a backlog of tests being added. 

Backlogged tests, or any change to the way LDH calculates the number of positive tests per day, can cloud the picture temporarily in regards to how Louisiana is doing in the fight against the virus. 

Earlier in the day Friday, the New Orleans Police Department warned on Facebook about a "concerning increase" in New Orleans coronavirus cases. 

"We're seeing a concerning increase in cases in #NOLA that go beyond university & Halloween clusters." the Facebook post said. "There is a very short window of time to turn this around before needing to reinstitute restrictions." 

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New Orleans began Phase 3.3 of reopening earlier this week, easing restrictions on bars and allowing limited on-premise drinking.

Other states faced with a second spike of coronavirus have walked back restrictions. Health experts say the country is headed into a dark winter, where both cases and deaths rise nationwide. 

During a press conference Friday afternoon, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the director of the New Orleans Health Department, said that timing was critical to public health decisions about the virus. 

On Monday, the city had low case numbers. But within a week, they began painting a bleaker picture. 

"It was probably just a matter of time before what was happening in the rest of the country started to show up in our numbers," she said. 

New Orleans has about a 2.2% positivity rate as of Friday, Avegno said. While that number is better than in many other parts of the country, it's still rising from a low point of about 1.2% last week. 

"If we continue to see our...cases continue to rise, it is very likely we will have to reimpose some restrictions," Avegno said. 

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