SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A mask mandate was put in place Monday for Shreveport city buildings and will remain until government officials decide it’s safe to change it.

On Sunday, the mayor’s office announced that masks are required in all its buildings due to rising COVID cases in the area. The new mandate went into effect on Monday. There is no timeline yet for when it will end.

The news came after the Louisiana Department of Health said hospitalizations have doubled over the past week, and Mayor Adrian Perkins himself was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“It’s very, very important for us to be proactive with this variant, do everything that we can to protect ourselves from this variant, and try to reduce as much as possible its presence in our community,” Mayor Perkins said.

Health officials in Shreveport-Bossier warned the arrival of the Omicron variant had caused a drastic increase in the number of hospitalizations. On Monday, Dr. Joseph A. Bocchini said that Willis Knighton hospital had 12 patients with COVID on Dec. 20th, but that increased to 30 by the 29th. On Tuesday, the number of hospitalizations rose by another 16, making 78 total in Region 7 hospitals.

Mayor Perkins says they will monitor the data from the hospitals closely.

“We’re going to continue to listen to the healthcare experts. We’re going to continue to look at our hospitalizations numbers as well. Those are the big factors that are going to help us determine how long we keep these protocols in place.”

KTAL NBC 6 asked people around town how they felt about the mandate. Many felt the mandate was a good idea and would keep them safer.

“It’s for all of our safety, mine’s and my family’s, and my kids. So, you know, whatever I have to do to make them safe, it’ll make me safe too,” said Oliver Patterson Sr.

Others, like John Carierere, were more reluctant.

“I don’t really think that it’s necessary again, but if that’s what they require, then I’ll have to have a mask on.”

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