NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a mask mandate for the City of New Orleans on Friday and announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for all City employees.
Orleans is the first parish in Louisiana to reinstate the mask mandate as the fourth wave of COVID-19, fueled by the Delta Variant, is causing new cases and hospitalizations to spike across the state.
"This is a critical moment in our city," Cantrell said. "Thanks to the Delta Variant the Covid pandemic is once again raging out of control."
The average daily cases of COVID-19 went from 104 last week to 272 this week in New Orleans, according to Cantrell.
All City employees, including contractors, will now be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as well.
"If you are on a city job site, if you are on a public right of way project if you are in one of our buildings, your personnel will need to be vaccinated," Deputy CAO of Infrastructure Ramsey Green said.
Cantrell said details on mandatory vaccines for City employees and contractors would be released on Monday.
Along with City employees, the mayor is urging local business leaders to make vaccines mandatory for their employees as well.
"We urge our business community to do what’s necessary," she said. "We don’t want to regress, we do not want to close down, we have turned the tides in terms of our economy … We want to maintain that. We’re urging the private sector, our business community, to go the extra mile."
Gov. John Bel Edwards said just hours earlier that he is "seriously considering" a mask mandate for all of Louisiana.
The Louisiana governor said he's had requests from health leaders across Louisiana to reinstate a statewide mask mandate as COVID hospitalizations rise at a dramatic pace.
"In light of the trends and developments, I can tell you I have received, over the last 24 hours or so, numerous requests from hospitals and healthcare organizations and other entities to reinstate a statewide mask mandate," Edwards said. "This is something that I am seriously considering."
Hospitalizations have skyrocketed across Louisiana since July 1. There are 1,456 more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than there were at the start of the month.
During the same time frame, 251 people have died because of the virus. At the start of the month, Louisiana was reporting on average about six new deaths each day. Now, the state is reporting on average 14 deaths daily.