BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards is making clear that Louisiana remains in Phase Three, in spite of a petition directing the governor to rescind his coronavirus emergency orders last week.
House Republicans filed a petition on Friday to nullify the governor’s public health emergency declaration — and all restrictions tied to it, such as the statewide mask mandate and business restrictions.
The petition sent to Edwards was signed by 65 of the House’s 68 Republicans. The governor lashed out at them as ignoring the risks of the virus outbreak for an “unconscionable” partisan political ploy.
“Burying heads in the sand and just pretending COVID isn’t a problem isn’t going to help. The virus doesn’t care that you’re tired of it,” Edwards said. He added: “I apologize to no one for the decisions I have made.”
The issue almost certainly will be settled in court, since Edwards indicated no plans to end enforcement of his rules.
“Louisiana remains in Phase Three,” Edwards said in a message on both Twitter and Facebook just before noon Monday. “As many states are seeing COVID cases increase, our cases and test positivity rates remain lower than our neighbors. Our mitigation measures work, and we’ll continue to see progress if we follow the guidelines in place.”
Edwards announced on October 8 that he would be keeping Phase Three coronavirus restrictions on businesses and activities in place for another month, even though those rules had provoked the ire of Republican lawmakers who convened a special session hoping to undo many or all of them.
“There just isn’t a lot further to go in terms of loosening restrictions before we are fully back to normal,” Edwards said at the time, adding, “We need to stay the course.”
The current extended order is set to expire on Friday, November 6.
Louisiana has reported 222 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17 more deaths since Sunday, bringing the cumulative number of cases statewide to 180,069 and total deaths to 5,648.