NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state will have 250 workers in place by the end of next week to call people infected with the new coronavirus and track down people they have been in close contact with.

Such “contact tracing” is a key factor in whether the state will be able to start easing crowd restrictions and closures of businesses, something the Democratic governor is under increasing pressure to do from Republican officials.

Nineteen newly reported deaths related to COVID-19 brought the state's death toll to at least 2,154 Friday. But hospitalizations continue to fall from April's peak. There were about 1,350 as of Friday.

(Story written by By KEVIN McGILL/AP)