Louisiana Reinstates Mask Mandate

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has temporarily reinstated Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate indoors for all people age five and older as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across Louisiana, threatening the ability of Louisiana’s hospitals to deliver care during this fourth surge of COVID. Louisiana is currently in the worst surge of the COVID-19 pandemic so far in terms of case growth rate, percent positivity and hospitalizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday released data that shows 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.

Louisiana’s temporary indoor statewide mask mandate will stay in place until at least September 1, but may be extended if necessary.

Driven largely by Louisiana’s insufficient vaccination rate and the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, COVID-19 cases in the state have grown exponentially. Louisiana remains No. 1 nationwide for number of new COVID-19 cases per capita. The temporary indoor statewide mask mandate will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and limit suffering and death in Louisiana until we are through this fourth surge. The indoor mask mandate also applies to K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions, which return to on-campus learning in August. In accordance with new guidance from the CDC, all people on campuses should be masked indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

“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.”

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