Renewed effort for local mask mandate gathers support from residents, council members

Posted at 10:41 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 15:17:00-05

Enforcement of Governor John Bel Edwards' statewide mask mandate has been an ongoing issue in Lafayette. Now two city council members are considering putting forward a local mask mandate. It has support from some who've been affected the most by COVID-19 - but not Lafayette's Mayor-President.

"These very basic, very minimum actions and behaviors are proven to save lives," said Peter Guarisco with Mask Up, Y'all.

The Lafayette native lost his father David to complications from COVID-19 earlier this month. Now he and his siblings are advocating to have local government enforce the statewide mask mandate. He's met with Mayor-President Josh Guillory about the issue.

"He said what we're doing now is good enough for the community, which is something I strongly reject and it's something that is just unacceptable," explained Guarisco. "And then I'm going to turn around. I'm going to turn around and plead for our business leaders, our community leaders, and our elected officials to please help in these efforts."

Guillory spoke before a mostly mask-less gathering of a group called Acadiana Patriots Thursday night, where he made his stance on a mandate clear.

"When I'm sitting right there and I'm around folks, it's my duty, my personal duty under a world pandemic, I'm going to choose to wear a mask and that's what I do and that's why I carry it around," said Guillory. "I don't need the government to tell me that and you don't either."

When asked if he'd veto an ordinance presented by council members, Guillory said, "We all want to be safer, we all want to find ways for solutions. So I'm not going to berate these guys for promoting [it]. Have conversation, there's nothing wrong with that, we might be able to find common ground, but I put faith in the people way more than I do government."

"I lost my dad from complications due to COVID earlier this month and it was a preventable death. He was taken from us too early. He had life to live, he had things to do," added Guarisco. "So it's our love for him and our love of this community that really gives us this push, this urgency to have this mask mandate in place and enforced."

A warning to residents to abide by safety measures came from Gov. Edwards Thursday morning, as he announced additional cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Louisiana. The strain has now been identified in three cases, the latest in Lake Charles and New Orleans. 14 other cases are being evaluated to determine if they're the same strain, which health officials say transmits much faster than the original strain of the novel coronavirus.

"We all need to take this very seriously. We see some improvements but we are in a very difficult place. These variants are very concerning," Edwards said.

Dr. Amanda Logue at Ochsner Health released a statement Thursday night echoing the governor's warning, saying, "Wearing a mask in public is a simple but powerful way to protect both yourself and those around you."

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