Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Monday temporarily reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have resurged as the Delta variant spreads, Fox News reported.
The order, which will remain in place until at least September 1, will require all individuals 5 years of age and up, including those at K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions, to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Individuals who have a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering will be exempt from the requirement. Individuals will not have to wear a mask while consuming drinks or food, trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired, giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, or when temporarily removing a face covering for identification purposes.
As with the governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempt if they cannot wear a mask.
Edwards said in a press release quoted by Fox News that the move was based on data from the CDC, advice from public health advisers and insight from hospitals and businesses.
"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," Edwards said. "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 Louisiana Department of Health has reported over 11,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths, bringing the state's totals to more than 552,000 cases and 11,000 deaths to date.
More than 1,900 patients have been hospitalized, with 213 people on ventilators.