Gov. Edwards lifts statewide mask mandate, except for schools

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 1:30 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 6:12 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate will expire on Wednesday, Oct. 27, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

The mask mandate will remain in place for the state’s K-12 schools. School districts may opt out of requiring masks if they continue to follow the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s (CDC) quarantine guidance, he said.

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Gov. Edwards explained he decided to lift the mandate because the state’s COVID-19 case count and hospitalizations had to return to levels before the fourth surge of the virus.

However, he emphasized the state is not finished fighting COVID-19.

“The pandemic is not over. And we still do not know what the future will bring,” he said.

Gov. Edwards also encouraged residents to get vaccinated against the virus, and get a booster shot if they are already vaccinated.

During the news conference, officials with LSU announced the university will “continue with the protocols in place on campus, including the indoor mask mandate, through the end of the semester.”

In New Orleans, a spokesperson for Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the mayor will speak with Dr. Jennifer Avegno before a decision is made about lifting the mask mandate in the city.

Masks will still be mandated by federal regulation, including on mass transit and in health care facilities. They will not be mandated in most places, including government buildings and businesses, Gov. Edwards said.

The mask mandate was implemented on Aug. 2 during the state’s fourth surge, spurred by the Delta variant of the virus. On that day, COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide exceeded 2,100 patients, more than 200 of them on mechanical ventilators.

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The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) also reported 7,095 new cases of COVID-19 on Aug. 2.

Louisiana’s COVID hospitalizations would later peak on Aug. 18 at 3,022 patients, and 480 patients on ventilators on Aug. 25. Hospitalizations across the state have steadily declined since late August.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 26, LDH reported 323 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 54 of them on ventilators, and 460 new cases.

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More than 2.1 million Louisiana residents are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to LDH.

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