NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an influx of tourists for Mardi Gras in February may be a reason why Louisiana has a higher rate of COVID-19 cases than other Southern states.

A recent CDC report says population density might play “a significant role in the acceleration of transmission” of the coronavirus. And it said Louisiana experienced a “temporarily high” population density because of Carnival season visitors. It also notes the season ended Feb. 25 — well before federal calls to discourage mass gatherings in mid-March. Louisiana reported at least 34 more coronavirus deaths Sunday as cases climb.

But officials say the rate of hospitalizations has slowed and the number of patients using ventilators is dropping.

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