(KTAL/KMSS) – Only one Northwest Louisiana parish has had low enough COVID-19 positivity rates long enough to allow bars to open at a higher capacity than the 25% that went into effect Wednesday under the governor’s new emergency orders: Claiborne Parish.
Under Edwards’ new rules, bars will be able to let customers back inside at 25% of their occupancy limit, with a maximum of 250 people. But if the bars are located in a parish that has seen low rates of coronavirus tests returning positive for two weeks, they can increase their indoor seating to 50% capacity, up to 250 people — if local parish leaders authorize it.
Claiborne Parish was just below 5% positivity last week at 4.90% and dropped even lower to 4.20% with the latest update from the Louisiana Department of Health, which releases data on positivity rates by parish weekly on Wednesdays.
Positivity rates dropped last week in all but two Northwest parishes. Webster rose from 4.60 to 6.50% and Bienville rose from 2.30 to 8.80.
Caddo Parish dropped from 5.10 to 4.60, which means parish leaders could authorize higher capacity in local bars if next week’s positivity rate stays below 5 percent.
It will be at least another two weeks for bars in Bossier Parish, which dropped from 6.50 to 6.00.
The positivy rate in De Soto Parish dropped from 8.40 to 5.40.
Natchitoches dropped from 7.80 to 3.00.
Sabine dropped from 10.40 to 9.00.
Red River dropped from 8.10 to 2.20.
The LDH reported 582 new COVID-19 cases and 21 more deaths Wednesday, bringing the total cases statewide to 431,771 and deaths to 9,668. Hospitalizations have dropped to 588 patients after topping 2,000 in January. Of those, 87 are in Northwest Louisiana hospitals.