Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference Friday in response to the ongoing fourth surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.
On Monday Edwards announced a mask mandate for the state. The order became effective on Wednesday August 4, 2021.All children age 5 and up and all adults will be a part of the mandate.
The indoor mask mandate also applies to K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions, which return to on-campus learning in August. In accordance with new guidance from the CDC, all people on campuses should be masked indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
The mandate will continue until September 1, 2021.
Edwards thanked those who are working to slow the spread of the virus by wearing a mask. This is a targeted temporary measure designed to keep our economy going, he stated.
"Words have to be followed up with action. We need everyone to do their part and mask up and go sleeves up." Edwards said.
Cases per capita in Louisiana continues to be the highest in the country. The number two state is Florida.
Edwards says that case growth and hospitalizations continue, which shows that we have not yet reached our peak.
"The eyes of the nation are on Louisiana. We have more children sick with COVID-19 than any other point in the pandemic." Edwards says the Delta variant is affecting more children at a higher rate.
3,900 children, below the age of 18 have tested positive in Louisiana in the last four days.
"We know better to believe that kids don't get sick or infected from COVID-19," he said. "they then go home and possibly infect parents and grandparents." Edwards says that any mitigation has to include young people.
Vaccination rate in younger children, those eligible for the vaccine, are low, Edwards pointed out.
"It is not safe for anyone to be in a public space without a mask on," Dr. John Vanchiere said. "Our school age children are not eligible for vaccines. this is a very different pandemic than what we faced a year ago."
Vanchiere, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in Shreveport, says that annually influenza kills 200 children annually. He says that COVID has already killed 400 children.
"Children in Louisiana have died of COVID and unfortunately more will die," he said
He stressed the wearing a mask will keep Louisiana Pro-Life.
"This surge can only be dampened by wearing a mask," Vanchiere stated. "I've been in the face of hundreds of people with COVID-19 and I have worn a mask. It works."
There are more pediatric infections than any other time in the pandemic, he stated. Most cases are mild and a nuisance, Vanchiere admits, but he says that we know that kids are infectious and the only way to stop that infectiousness is with masks.
The average age of hospitalized people in our state is 25 years younger than what it was a year ago.
"It is not the time to threaten lawsuits and mince words. Our state officials don't need to be attacked our only goal is the safety of our citizens," Dr. Vanchiere said.
In Northwest Louisiana, the highest increase in vaccinated people are those younger than 18.
"It is clearly in my authority. He is undermining confidence in basic mitigation measures. it is dangerous," Governor Edwards said response to AG Landry's opposition to the mask mandate.
Landry believes that Edwards has no authority to mandate masks.
The governor says that he has requested that the federal government send medical response teams to the state to help with the COVID surge. Edwards says that it will not be enough. He stated that mitigation will help
Staff in many hospitals are seeing the stresses from the surge Ochsner Health System spoke this week about the challenges they are facing due to the 4th surge in the state. Read more here.
Louisiana is tied with Arkansas on vaccination rates, Edwards says."We are making progress."
1,400 locations in the state where people can get their vaccines. Louisiana ordered more vaccines than they have in the past because of more people wishing to be vaccinated.
"I would encourage that everyone see that today is a new day," he said. " It is time to change your mind and talk to a medical professional and get your questions answered in making that decision."
Dr. Joe Kanter with LDH says that with today's update, there is no good news. "We continue to not yet see any signs that we are turning a corner."
15 percent of all ER visits are COVID related.
15.4 percent of test positivity has been recorded, the second highest percent since April 2020. The number of COVID positive patients that are hospitalized, he said are overwhelming hospital systems.
2,091 hospitalizations have been added to the number of hospitalizations in July alone. 50 hospitals have reached out to the state stating that they need help and can no longer supply adequate care to patients.
There is not a magic supply of nurses and doctors, etc," Kanter said.
No vaccine is 100 percent effective, Kanter said. Breakthrough cases are known to happen and more will be seen as COVID case numbers increase.
Kanter says that while not 100 percent effective, getting vaccinated will lower the chance of hospitalization or death. 90 percent of people hospitalized in Louisiana are not vaccinated. Of the 48 deaths reported on Friday, 45 were not vaccinated, he said.
Masking provides a simple and easy way to mitigate community spread."If we are going to avoid more drastic in the state, is if we mask. That holds true if you a school kid, teacher, workers in a workplace," he said.
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