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Gov. Edwards reinstates indoor mask mandate; warns about severity of delta variant

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:00 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:57 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced during a news conference Monday afternoon that he will be instating a new indoor mask mandate that will go into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 4 and last for almost one month.

Gov. Edwards said he was “strongly considering” reinstating a statewide mask mandate during his last news conference on Friday, July 30.

Some people are expressing their opposition to the governor’s guidelines on masking children.

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New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced she was reinstating a city-wide mask mandate shortly after the governor’s news conference on Friday.

The new mask mandate is set to expire on Sept. 1, 2021, but could be extended if needed, the governor said.

While the order technically takes effect Wednesday, Aug. 4, the governor urged all Louisiana residents to start wearing masks indoors immediately.

“It has never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge that, in addition to threatening the health and wellbeing of many Louisianans, also threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver care to their patients. That is simply unacceptable, and after reviewing new data from the CDC, speaking with public health advisors, and hearing from hospital leadership and the business community, I am reinstating Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate indoors, including in schools to protect our children who are too young to be vaccinated and our teachers and staff,” Gov. Edwards said. “This decision is not one I take lightly, but as the fourth surge of COVID-19 is upon us, we know that mask wearing when you are in public is one way to greatly lower your risk of spreading or catching COVID. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is another. We have the tools we need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives, and I am pleading with unvaccinated Louisianans to get their shot as soon as they can to protect themselves. We can end this nightmare, but it is going to take all of us working together to do it.”

“The data in Louisiana clearly point to the severity of our situation, and the urgency to act now,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer. “Over the weekend we reviewed new data from the CDC showing that while vaccination reduces one’s chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do become infected with the Delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are likely at risk of transmitting it to others. This new information and other recent data showing the Delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original strains of COVID-19 bolster our recommendation to the Governor to put a universal mask mandate in place immediately.”

The indoor mask mandate applies to anyone age five or older in all public places in the state, including K-12 schools, regardless of whether people have the COVID-19 vaccine or not. The governor made the announcement surrounded by health care leaders from several different parts of the state.

“This is obviously not something I wanted to do,” Edwards said. “But Louisiana is not in the place where we want it to be or need it to be.”

His declaration comes on the heels of 11,109 new COVID-19 cases reported over the weekend in Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health also reported 27 new COVID-19 deaths over the weekend. The agency says 90 percent of all COVID-19 cases documented in the state between July 15 and July 21, 2021 were among those who were not vaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.

There are currently 1,984 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Louisiana, including 213 on ventilators, the state reported Monday, August 2.

Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced Friday that Louisiana is now the leading state in the U.S. for COVID cases per capita and has no sign of slowing down.

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