BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Louisiana judge has upheld Gov. John Bel Edwards' statewide mask mandate and bar restrictions as legal and enforceable
. Judge Janice Clark on Thursday rejected claims from Jefferson Parish business owners that the Democratic governor overstepped his legal authority in enacting the coronavirus rules.
Clark delivered her ruling after a two-day hearing in which the plaintiffs argued Edwards' regulations were illegal, unfair and an overreaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Edwards administration countered that the rules helped to slow the virus' spread and protect public safety. Clark handed down her decision as Louisiana's health department announced the death toll from the COVID-19 disease has topped 4,000.
According to the Advocate, The ruling represents a win for the governor as he prepares for hearings in two other lawsuits brought by bar owners in other parts of the state in federal court. Those begin next week.
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement in response to Judge Janice Clark’s ruling in the 19th Judicial District to uphold the mask mandate, bar restrictions and limits on gatherings to no more than 50 that he implemented on July 11 in response to the impact of COVID-19 statewide.
“I am pleased that Judge Clark upheld the critical mitigation measures I put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana and to protect and save lives. The evidence is clear that mask mandates and bar closures work. Not only have they been proven effective in other states and countries, but 24 days into our own bar closure to on-site consumption and mask mandate our data is showing early signs of improvements in terms of decreasing reports of COVID-like illness, new cases and hospitalizations. What we are doing is necessary, and what we are doing is working. Further, my orders are fully consistent with the constitution and statutory authority I have as governor to protect our people during a public health emergency.
“Taking strong mitigation measures like closing businesses and mandating masks was not an easy decision, but it was data driven and based on the recommendations of public health experts and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has designated Louisiana as a red zone state. That means for states like ours with a high incidence of the virus and a high percent positivity rate statewide, bar restrictions and mask mandates are strongly recommended by the White House. We have had the most cases per capita in the country, and there is more COVID-19 in our state now than ever, which is why I will continue to let science and data drive my decisions when it comes to the health and safety of the people of Louisiana. This is how we will be able to open as much of our economy as possible without overwhelming our capacity to deliver life-saving health care in our hospitals.”
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