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Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at the State Capitol Monday, June 22, 2020, at a press conference to discuss the state's COVID-19 response. He announced Monday that Louisiana would pause for 28 days, and not move yet into Phase 3 to ease restrictions of the stay-at-home order, as COVID-19 cases in the state, like many others, are on the upswing lately.

In his periodic coronavirus updates, Gov. John Bel Edwards has lately assumed a tougher tone. As he has since Louisiana quickly mushroomed into one of the world’s most virulent hot spots in March, Edwards is reacting to the data — in this case, an alarming reversal of the state’s steady reduction in diagnoses and hospitalizations.

Monday, the data dictated that Edwards delay loosening restrictions at the end of the week, when his Phase 2 emergency declaration expires. Rather than take another step toward full reopening, the governor said he’d extend current limitations another four weeks, and urged residents who are not following recommended precautions to do some soul searching.

We know it’s disappointing, but we think he’s right.

As frustrating as the past few months have been, as economically difficult and as personally challenging, Louisianans as a whole took the threat seriously, made sacrifices, and started writing one of the deadly pandemic’s success stories. Where there were well-founded fears that medical resources would be overmatched, that never happened. Instead, key indicators eventually started to trend down. Edwards said the state had been on a “pretty decent glide path,” which may have lulled people into thinking things were destined to keep heading in the right direction.

That’s not necessarily true. As Louisiana logged its 50,000th COVID-19 case and mourned its 3,000th death, the administration pointed to a growth in cases in most parts of the state — and even more concerning, a rise in hospitalizations. Some increase was expected in light of more widespread testing and the gradual reopening of public spaces, he said, but that doesn’t explain it all.

One discouraging development is the rise in cases among 18 to 29-year-olds, highlighted by clusters discovered among Tigerland bar-hoppers and graduation party-goers. Young people may feel invincible, the governor said, but they too can struggle with COVID’s severe symptoms and can pass the virus on to parents and grandparents.

Edwards didn’t announce a mask requirement or other new restrictions. Instead, he said he hoped to increase compliance through stepped-up enforcement of existing rules, and through better communication about why personal behavior is so important.

“Many of you are doing the right thing and I thank you for it. It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that there are still some people who refuse to wear masks in public, which puts all of us at greater risk of becoming sick. I implore Louisianans to be good neighbors, to stay at home when they are experiencing symptoms, to avoid crowds, physically distance, and to wear a mask when not around their immediate household whether inside or outside,” he said.

None of that is new, but it remains urgent. Louisiana has benefited from taking the cautious approach since the crisis started. The better we stick to it, the better chance we have of moving on to Phase 3 next month.