Edwards calls Lafayette's rejection of mask mandate a "failure of leadership"

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Posted at 2:55 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 18:02:11-05

In an interview with the Washington Post, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards spoke about the push back on the mask mandate by the Lafayette City Council.

Edwards says that the mask mandate is still in place across the state and Lafayette, having chosen not to enforce the mandate on their level, has shown a basic failure of leadership.

“Let me be clear, the mask mandate is being enforced and in effect all across Louisiana. The Lafayette City Council doesn’t have the authority to opt out of that mandate… It’s unfortunate because that region of our state, at numerous times throughout the pandemic, has actually had some of the highest positivity rates and case growth and hospitalizations, and hospital capacity has been threatened in that region of our state probably more than any other," Edwards said of their decision.

The council voted on February 9th to reject an emergency ordinance to mandate masks or facial coverings in certain establishments and public places.

The ordinance was rejected by a 3-2 vote, with Glenn Lazard and Pat Lewis voting in favor of it. Read more on the vote here.

Edwards says the opposition to a mask mandate in Lafayette is regrettable but says the state will continue to enforce.

“It’s a basic failure of leadership and there’s a partisan edge to this, that quite frankly, I don’t understand. The mask mandate was something we were encouraged to do by the Trump White House… and every step that I’ve taken has been fully consistent with what they were asking us to do," he said.

Opinions on wearing a mask and whether people should be required to wear them in public has been a debate since the pandemic began.

"How this has taken an air of partisanship I will never know. That virus doesn’t know and doesn’t care whether someone is a Republican or a Democrat," Edwards said.

We've reached out to the governor's office for comment on the lack of enforcement, but we have not heard back. KATC is also working to get reaction from members of the Lafayette City Council.

My vote against the ordinance was based on the ordinance being difficult in the enforcement of the ordinance. Enforcing such a mandate everywhere in the city would cripple law enforcement, hampering the prevention and investigation of serious crimes. Police can’t be everywhere making their job even more difficult.

Enforcing the ordinance would place a serious burden on our retail community. The ordinance targeted businesses to be the only responsible party, not only for enforcement, but also for violations. I do wear my mask, as is appropriate, and ask all citizens to respect the state mandate, that is in place, and others personal space.
Andy Naquin, District 2

We also tried to get Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory's response; his spokesperson declined to comment.

Also during the interview, Edwards spoke about the state's COVID-19 response and vaccine distribution. He also updated on the challenge the state is currently facing due to winter weather. To see the full interview click here

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