Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has temporarily reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have resurged as the Delta variant spreads.
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The order, which will remain in place until at least Sept. 1, will require all individuals 5 years of age and up, including those at K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions, to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Individuals who have a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering will be exempt from the requirement. Individuals will not have to wear a mask while consuming drinks or food, trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired, giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, or when temporarily removing a face covering for identification purposes.
As with the governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempt if they cannot wear a mask. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly encourage indoor mask wearing in public for all children aged 2 and older if they are able to.
Edwards said in a press release that the move was based on data from the CDC, advice from public health advisers and insight from hospitals and businesses.
“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,” Edwards said. “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.”
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According to the governor, Louisiana leads the nation with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases per capita.
The Louisiana Department of Health reports over 11,000 new cases and 27 deaths, bringing the state’s totals to more than 552,000 cases and 11,000 deaths to date. More than 1,900 patients have been hospitalized, with 213 people on ventilators. Individuals who are unvaccinated make up about 90% of the hospitalizations, according to the agency. Approximately 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the state as of Monday.
Louisianans looking to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can find a list of locations at vaccines.gov or by texting their ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish. Individuals who would like to speak to a medical professional or need help scheduling an appointment can call 211 or Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.
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