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‘Dust off your masks’

Edwards makes recommendation in response to virus case increase
Sunday, July 25, 2021
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With COVID-19 once again on the rise statewide, Gov. John Bel Edwards is recommending that Louisianans return to wearing masks indoors to help slow the spread of the deadly respiratory virus.

Edwards is recommending — but not mandating — that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals mask up if distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible. He also asked that anyone who’s been exposed to COVID-19 get tested, whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.

Edwards’ requests came during a Friday afternoon press conference called to address Louisiana’s escalating fourth surge of COVID-19. The state now leads the nation in the highest growth rate per capita for newly confirmed COVID cases.

The governor did not rule out the possibility that more and stricter guidance may be in the offing.

“The statewide average of daily cases per 100,000 residents has increased 208% over the past 14 days,” Edwards said. “That has to change, and that has to change now.”

The governor said while the more contagious Delta variant is behind the surge, it’s Louisiana’s low COVID vaccination rate that’s driving the soaring numbers.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, over 90% of Louisianans who are now getting sick, being hospitalized and dying from COVID are unvaccinated.

“We have the tools to prevent this from happening,” Edwards said.

Only about 36% of Louisianans are fully vaccinated, according to LDH. That’s below the national average of 49% and among the lowest averages in the country.

In Lincoln Parish, only one in three people age 12 and over is fully vaccinated.

Meantime, Fifth District Congresswoman Julia Letlow, whose district includes all of Northeast Louisiana and part of Central Louisiana, is urging her constituents to get vaccinated.

“The Delta variant poses a dangerous threat to so many in the 5th District. I would like to personally encourage everybody to help us end this horrific pandemic by getting the vaccine,” Letlow told the Leader on Friday.

“If you have concerns, please consult with your doctor or a trusted health care professional. While I believe vaccination should always be your choice, these shots can truly save lives,” the Republican Congresswoman said.

Letlow’s late husband, Luke Letlow, died of COVID complications in December 2020, just days before he was to have been sworn in to the 5th District seat. Julia Letlow was elected to the post in March.

Julie Letlow was vaccinated herself prior to her swearing-in, receiving the Moderna shots “at the earliest possible opportunity,” according to her communications director, Mitch Rabalais.