Amid a resurgence of COVID-19 due to the delta variant, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards is reinstituting a statewide mask mandate indoors for all people age 5 and older, "regardless of vaccination status," until at least Sept. 1.
The return to mandatory masking comes, according to the governor's news release Monday, as "hospitalizations continue to rise across Louisiana, threatening the ability of Louisiana's hospitals to deliver care during this fourth surge of COVID."
"Louisiana is currently in the worst surge of the COVID-19 pandemic so far in terms of case growth rate, percent positivity and hospitalizations," the release claimed.
The state blames the "insufficient vaccination rate" and the "highly transmissible Delta variant" for the COVID-19 resurgence. Louisiana ranks No. 1 nationwide for number of new COVID-19 cases per capita.
"It has never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge that, in addition to threatening the health and wellbeing of many Louisianans, also threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver care to their patients," Gov. Edwards said in a statement. "That is simply unacceptable, and after reviewing new data from the CDC, speaking with public health advisers, and hearing from hospital leadership and the business community, I am reinstating Louisiana's statewide mask mandate indoors, including in schools to protect our children who are too young to be vaccinated and our teachers and staff.
"This decision is not one I take lightly, but as the fourth surge of COVID-19 is upon us, we know that mask wearing when you are in public is one way to greatly lower your risk of spreading or catching COVID. Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is another. We have the tools we need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives, and I am pleading with unvaccinated Louisianans to get their shot as soon as they can to protect themselves. We can end this nightmare, but it is going to take all of us working together to do it."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Friday, showing while vaccination reduces one's chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do become infected with the delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are likely at risk of transmitting it to others.
"The data in Louisiana clearly point to the severity of our situation, and the urgency to act now," State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter wrote in a statement. "Over the weekend we reviewed new data from the CDC showing that while vaccination reduces one's chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do become infected with the delta variant despite being fully vaccinated are likely at risk of transmitting it to others. This new information and other recent data showing the delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original strains of COVID-19 bolster our recommendation to the governor to put a universal mask mandate in place immediately."
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