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Shreveport mayor to issue mask order as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise at ‘alarming’ rate

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins says he will issue an order requiring customers to wear a mask when entering any business as the number of hospitalizations approaches levels reached when the virus first peaked in the region in early May.

“Since Memorial Day, we have seen alarming uptick of COVID-19 cases in our community,” Perkins said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “This is not due to more testing in our area. Hospitalizations do not lie and our area is seeing an alarming rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations. On June 12th, we achieved a two-month low at 129 COVID hospitalizations, but today, just 25 days later, we are at 221. That is only three shy of our high point during this pandemic.”

Perkins also noted that there have been 11 deaths in Caddo Parish since June 30.

“And that breaks my heart, that’s almost two deaths per day in our community. These increases are obviously related to community spread, and this time calls for us to act.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there have been 243 deaths to date in Caddo, which is two more deaths than the 241 reported by the Caddo Coroner’s office as of Thursday evening.

“This is not about politics, this is about our city,” Perkins said in announcing the order. “We can’t afford to lose any more of our friends, our family, our co-workers, our neighbors, nor can we afford local businesses to shutter and close down if we go backwards.

Masks effectively slow the spread of COVID-19 and if we all wear masks, we can not only protect our health, but we protect the health of our economy and our friends. This is scientifically proven. I cannot in good conscience continue to go another day in our city without us taking these strong precautions to protect our health, our public safety, and our city.”

The order applies to all businesses that interact with the public to all customers, with the exception of those with medical conditions that prevent one from wearing a mask. Perkins said the Shreveport Police Department will be enforcing this mandate and businesses will be issued documented warnings on their first violation and up to a maximum fine of $500 on their second violation.

Perkins is expected to sign the order late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It will go into effect on Wednesday, July 8 at 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on August 8.

Perkins’ order also requires all passengers over the age of two in any SporTran facility, bus shelter, or vehicle wear a mask.

Perkins confirmed over the weekend that he was considering mandating masks, saying he was speaking with city leaders on both sides of the Red River as well as business owners. On Monday, he said has also spoken with several Caddo commissioners and that he hopes the city will be joined by the parish with a similar order.

An emergency ordinance mandating masks or facial coverings in certain establishments and public places was on the agenda for the commission’s Monday afternoon work session.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations in Shreveport/Bossier have risen at an alarming rate,” Perkins said in a Facebook post shortly after the latest update on the coronavirus was released by the Louisiana Department of Health just before 12 p.m. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard includes data broken down by region on hospitalizations.

“On June 12th, hospitalizations neared a two month low at 129, and just 25 days later, we are at 221, which is nearly our highest number since all this began (-3). This is concerning and it further underscores the need for everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing. “

According to the state health department, Region 7 currently has 287 ICU beds in use and 117 available.

There are 67 newly confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Region 7 as of Monday, with 34 of them in Caddo. That brings the total confirmed cases in the parish to 3,740. The Louisiana Department of Health is still reporting 243 deaths in Caddo, which is two more deaths than the 241 reported by the Caddo Coroner’s office as of Thursday evening.

Bossier has added 23 more cases, bringing the total in the parish to 1,030.

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