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Edwards considering state mask mandate

Sunday, August 1, 2021
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Masks are once again required in Ruston's City Hall, and they could possibly soon be mandated statewide by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday he is “seriously considering” reinstating a statewide mask mandate that would apply to people who are vaccinated as well as those who are not vaccinated.

Edwards indicated he would announce a decision “one way or the other” on Monday, after spending the weekend reviewing new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding masks and the virulence of the COVID Delta variant.

“At this point it’s not whether we vaccinate or mask up. We have to do both,” Edwards said during a press conference called to address the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

Louisiana continues to lead the nation in new COVID cases per capita.

“We just need to take a careful look (at the CDC guidance) and continue to consult with doctors and professionals across Louisiana,” he said. “We’re going to look at the data, we’re going to look at the science, we’re going to look at the trends.”

Edwards lifted the state’s previous mask mandate in April.

He blamed the current fourth surge of COVID cases on the Delta variant and Louisiana’s low COVID vaccination rate.

“The Delta variant is absolutely a game changer superimposed on a state like Louisiana that’s not sufficiently vaccinated,” Edwards said.

Approximately 87% of the state’s new COVID cases are the Delta variant, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Researchers say the Delta variant is more contagious, regardless of vaccination status. That’s why Edwards recommended a week ago that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals resume wearing masks indoors, Dr. Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s medical officer, said.

“It is unbelievable to be back where we are now,” Kanter said, referring to surge numbers the likes of which Louisiana hasn’t seen in months.

Kanter said the situation is “as bad as any point during the pandemic” and the trend is “not showing any signs of slowing.”