Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards
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In response to rising coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations, Louisiana became the nation’s second state on Monday to revive its mask mandate.
The order, which will remain in effect until at least September 1, instructs residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of their vaccination status, and includes students from kindergarten to college. Louisiana joins Nevada as the only state to reinstate the mask mandate, although Nevada’s order only applies to counties with high transmission rates.
“The data in Louisiana clearly indicates the gravity of our situation and the urgency to act now,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health commissioner, in a statement from Governor John Bel Edwards’ office announcing the mandate.
Louisiana originally recommended that all residents wear masks indoors on July 23 to combat the spread of the Delta variant. The recommendation suggested that stricter measures could be taken later if the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen.
On Monday, the Department of Health and Welfare measured that nearly 14% of Louisiana’s hospital beds are used for Covid patients and found that nearly 19% of all hospital patients in the state have the coronavirus.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows Louisiana recorded 4,119 new coronavirus cases last week a seven-day average, a sharp increase from the state’s daily average of 2,414 new cases from July 18 to July 25. The governor’s office said the state’s case growth rate, percentage positivity and hospital admissions are currently experiencing “the worst surge” in the pandemic.
The order calls for face coverings for anyone over five years of age and calls for increased vaccinations to prevent the virus from spreading. According to the CDC, Louisiana has the fourth lowest rate of first-time vaccine administered in the country, with nearly 51% of Louisiana residents over the age of 12 receiving at least one vaccination on Monday.
But the CDC also reported Monday that Louisiana issued about 12,100 first doses a day last week, up 51% from the week before.
“We have the tools we need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives, and I ask the unvaccinated Louisians to get their vaccination as soon as possible to protect themselves,” said Edwards in the statement.
CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this coverage.