Decision on mask mandate to come next week, governor said on radio show | Coronavirus


A decision on whether or not to extend the statewide mandate for indoor masks, which was re-imposed over the summer in response to the state’s fourth wave, will come next week, according to the Governor John Bel Edwards.

Edwards gave this response in response to a caller’s question during his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio spot on Wednesday, adding that he had not yet made a decision.

Although he said it was “a bit premature” to announce a decision at this point, Edwards said the state’s baseline figures for new COVID-19 cases, the percentage of positivity and hospitalizations were returning to levels they were before the Delta surge.

For the most recent seven-day average (October 9), the state was reporting 706 new cases, up from a peak of 5,465 on August 5. The percentage of positivity fell to less than 3% after surpassing 16%, Edwards said. After reaching 3,022 hospitalizations in mid-August, they fell to 354 Thursday, a decrease of 2,668.

“Things are going a lot better than they were several weeks ago when we were in the middle of Wave Four,” said Edwards.

In May, Edwards removed his original mask mandate, which was first implemented in July 2020 amid the state’s second wave of COVID-19.

He reinstated the mask’s mandate in early August during the state’s fourth wave, an increase that led to a record daily increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. At one point, Louisiana was reporting the nation’s highest per capita growth in COVID-19 cases.

“At one point, we had over 900 out of 100,000 people receiving COVID-19 over a 7-day period,” Edwards said. “It was an astronomical number.”

Edwards extended the current term of masks before Hurricane Ida in late August and again in late September. The current expansion is scheduled to expire on October 27.

Despite the state’s improvements, Edwards said the state still needs to increase vaccinations, which have declined in recent weeks. So far, just under 47 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, while 52 percent have at least started a series of vaccines, according to state figures. Both follow national averages.

“We need more people to get vaccinated,” Edwards said.

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