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Louisiana Postpones Presidential Primary Over Coronavirus Fears

Louisiana will delay its presidential primary election by more than two months over coronavirus fears, becoming the first state to do so.

The state had more than 35 presumptive positive test results for people with coronavirus as of Friday morning.

The primary had been scheduled for April 4 but will now be on June 20.

"This weighty decision has been made out of absolute abundance of caution for Louisiana's voters, voting officials and the general public as a whole, and there were many factors that led us to arrive to this conclusion," Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Friday.

He said officials were particularly concerned about the risk posed to Election Day poll workers.

"Louisiana has almost 3 million registered voters who vote at nearly 4,000 precincts in over 2,000 polling locations. And of Louisiana's election day commissioners, over half are 65 and older," he said.

Health officials warn that older people face a higher risk of serious consequences from the novel coronavirus. Ardoin said several polling locations are located in nursing homes.

On Tuesday, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio are the next states set to hold presidential primary elections. Elections officials in the four states sent out a joint press release Friday saying their elections would go ahead as planned but that extra health information on sanitizing voting equipment and hand washing would be provided to polling locations.

"Americans have participated in elections during challenging times in the past, and based on the best information we have from public health officials, we are confident that voters in our states can safely and securely cast their ballots in this election," said the statement.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have been adapting to the spread of the coronavirus by canceling rallies and holding events to talk with voters online. They are set to debate on Sunday without a live audience.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

James Doubek is an associate editor and reporter for NPR. He frequently covers breaking news for NPR.org and NPR's hourly newscast. In 2018, he reported feature stories for NPR's business desk on topics including electric scooters, cryptocurrency, and small business owners who lost out when Amazon made a deal with Apple.