Gov. John Bel Edwards ‘considering’ mask mandate as Louisiana hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients

‘It is as bad now as it has been at any point in the pandemic,’ state health officer says

By: and - July 30, 2021 4:31 pm
Louisiana extends face mask mandate

Visitors walk past face mask signs along Decatur Street in the French Quarter on July 14, 2020 in New Orleans. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Louisiana has more people entering hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms than ever before, the most single-day deaths since March 10 and the highest number of new cases per capita in the nation as of Friday. Despite the grim numbers, Gov. John Bel Edwards has still not reinstated mitigation measures such as a face mask mandate and other public restrictions, but he said he is seriously considering them.

In a Friday afternoon news conference, Edwards admitted he’s feeling pressure to take such actions, saying he received “numerous requests over the last 24 hours” from the healthcare sector and other entities to reinstate the statewide mask mandate that he put in place last summer until lifting it and other mitigation measures in April. 

The governor said he plans to consult with more healthcare professionals and hospitals before enacting such orders, hinting that some form of emergency restriction could come as early as Monday.

“I anticipate we will be having a press conference on Monday,” he said.

State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said, “45 hospitals reached out to us this morning asking for help” with staffing to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients.

The governor said the highly-contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 coupled with the low number of fully-vaccinated people are the main factors driving the surge in Louisiana.

“It is not an over-exaggeration to say, ‘it is as bad now as it has been at any point in the pandemic,'” Kanter said. “What’s scarier than that is that the trajectory has not yet shown any signs of slowing.”

Vaccinated people are just as likely to transmit the Delta variant as people that are unvaccinated, Kanter said.

Louisiana is seeing an increased vaccination rate of more than 10,000 shots a day, Edwards said. “And all those people changed their minds”… and it’s okay to change your mind, Kanter said.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Among his recognitions are McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association. Muller is an alumnus of Jesuit High School and the University of New Orleans and is a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Louisiana with his wife and two sons.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

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