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Pete Dufresne, St. James Parish president

Rising numbers of the novel coronavirus cases in St. James Parish have led local officials to close parish government offices again after they had recently reopened.

"This virus is still alive in our state and in our parish, so we're taking the necessary precautions to protect our employees," St. James Parish President Peter "Pete" Dufresne announced earlier this week.

Amber Shepard, parish government spokeswoman, said the parish had an unannounced "soft opening" of parish offices in mid-June but decided to close them again with the recent rise in cases.

Through Friday, the parish has added 135 new cases since Phase II of the state's easing of social distancing restrictions took effect June 5, or about 31% of all cases in the parish since the outbreak began in early March.

More than half those new cases have been found since June 30. The parish total stood at 439 since outbreak began. The parish has added three more deaths since June 5 for a total of 30.

Dufresne told the Parish Council during a meeting in Convent Wednesday that parish is asking residents to try to handle business over the telephone if possible. 

He noted that Gov. John Bel Edwards remarked in recent press briefings that, in June, the state lost all the gains it had made earlier this year during the stay-at-home order.

"It seems like Louisiana, and possibly our parish, is going in the wrong direction with this virus," he said.

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