March 13 (UPI) -- The state of Louisiana decided Friday to postpone its presidential primaries until June, due to advice from health officials against staging large public events during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic and Republican primaries were scheduled for April 4 but have now been moved to June 20. As of Friday, Louisiana will be the final state to stage its primaries.
Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Bel Edwards, said the virus has presented an emergency situation that permits the state to reschedule the political nominating contests.
"[It is an] extraordinary measure but one we feel is prudent," Stephens said. "We're one of the few states that is supposed to have an election in early April, which we think could potentially be the height of some of this in Louisiana.
"Our poll workers are by large elderly, over the age of 70 and we think it is unsafe for them to be monitoring the election."
Louisiana Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin said municipal elections scheduled for May 9 have also been moved, to July 25.
"This decision has been made out of an absolute abundance of caution," Ardoin said.
Edwards said the state may ultimately take more measures to stem serious coronavirus cases. New Orleans, a top U.S. tourism destination, is home to numerous festivals this time of the year, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival next month. The French Quarter Festival has moved to October.
The Louisiana Department of Health said Friday there are 33 coronavirus cases in the state.