NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is reenacting a statewide mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents across all indoor locations, including schools and colleges.
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement on Monday came as the state struggles with a fast-growing fourth surge of COVID-19 driven by low vaccination rates and the delta variant. The new statewide mask mandate takes effect on Wednesday, Aug. 4, and will apply to anyone age 5 and older who enters a business, school, church, or other inside location.
There are some exceptions for the following:
- Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
- Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
- Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
- Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
The governor’s order will last until Sept. 1, but could be extended.
Edwards said the “unchecked” fourth wave of the virus “threatens the capacity of our hospitals and medical facilities to deliver car to their patients,”
“That is simply unacceptable, and after reviewing new data from the CDC, speaking with public health advisors, 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.”
Louisiana has one of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the nation and is seeing one of the country’s worst COVID-19 spikes per capita. The state shattered its previous record for COVID-19 cases on Monday, reporting more than 11,000 new cases and 27 deaths since Friday. More than 11,000 people have now died in the state due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have skyrocketed since July 1, and have continued to rise daily. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there were 244 more patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state on Monday than there were just three days prior. In total, there were 1,984 COVID-19 positive patients on Monday, just shy of the record-setting totals seen in January during the state’s third surge of the virus.
Hospitalizations are on pace to set a record in the state this week. The LDH said that 90% of those people hospitalized are unvaccinated.
Some regions like Baton Rouge, the Northshore and south central portions of the state are reporting record-setting numbers of COVID-19 positive patients.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.