BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Gov. John Bel Edwards has extended the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate for another 28 days, through Oct. 27, including K-12 schools and college campuses.
Edwards said that while the state is headed in the right direction in slowing the spread of COVID-19, the state is still at four times the baseline hospitalization rate it was when the fourth surge began this summer.
Edwards released the following statement:
There is no doubt that our COVID-19 situation in Louisiana has improved since the peak of our fourth surge, which was largely driven by the Delta variant, and for that I am deeply grateful. Even so, the amount of COVID in Louisiana is still incredibly high, at 243 cases for every 100,000 people, as it is disproportionately driven by transmission in those 5-18 years old. This is why to support continued decreases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths, I am extending Louisiana’s statewide indoor mask mandate for another four weeks, including in our K-12 schools and on college campuses. Masks have been proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19, with recent federal data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that schools without masking requirements are 3.5 times more likely to have a COVID-19 outbreak than schools where children and staff members are masked. We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us who are vulnerable, including wearing masks indoors and getting the safe, effective and totally free COVID-19 vaccine.
On August 4, the day that the mask mandate was put back into place, only 37 percent of Louisianans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of today, that is up to more than 45 percent. While that improvement is something to be proud of, it is not enough. Currently, our hospitalizations are down, but they are still roughly four times the pre-Delta surge baseline. In the month of September alone, Louisiana reported that 1,470 people died of COVID, which is tragic, as we know that the vast majority of these deaths were likely preventable. We have to get Louisiana’s vaccine rate up even more so that we have strong vaccine protection in our communities. Just over half of all people in Louisiana who are eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated. That’s why masking right now is important still.Gov. John Bel Edwards
“Our COVID-19 indicators continue to move in the right direction and that is critical, but we are still wading in COVID,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “All 64 parishes are currently at the highest possible level on our community risk scale. With the highly transmissible Delta variant circulating throughout the state, masking indoors is how we stay safe and protect our loved ones.”
The order requires face coverings for everyone age 5 or older or enrolled in kindergarten, except for the following:
- Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
- Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
- Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
- Face coverings are highly encouraged for those ages 2 to 4 as tolerated.
As with the Governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempted if they cannot wear a mask. However, the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly encourage indoor mask-wearing in public for all children aged two and older, especially as they are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.