Louisiana bar owners fighting coronavirus -related closures of their businesses lost an appeal Wednesday at a federal appeals court.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld rulings from two lower court judges who last year refused to block the closure order for groups of bars that filed suit in the New Orleans and Lafayette areas.

A three-judge 5th Circuit panel rejected the argument that Gov. John Bel Edwards' closure order is unfair because it allows bars with food permits to remain open. The opinion said there is a plausible basis for the state's premise that businesses that are driven more by alcohol sales than food sales are more likely to spread the virus.

Edwards said he was pleased with the decision. His office said it was the ninth time a court has ruled in favor of his orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

"None of the decisions I have made for the past 10 months have been easy, especially when it comes to limiting businesses, and I am pleased that another court has upheld what I have always said: that these orders are completely constitutional, legal and necessary to protect public health," the governor said.

More than 2,000 people in the state are hospitalized with COVID-19. The disease has been confirmed as a cause of more than 7,500 Louisiana deaths and is suspected in another 440 deaths.

The 5th Circuit's ruling came from judges James Dennis and Stephen Higginson of New Orleans and Don Willett of Austin, Texas, and was written by Higginson. Dennis was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton, Higginson by President Barack Obama and Willett by President Donald Trump.