Louisiana reinstates mask mandate to combat delta variant

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

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In response to climbing coronavirus case totals and hospitalizations, Louisiana became the second state in the nation to revive its mask mandate on Monday.

The order, which will remain in effect until at least Sept. 1, directs residents to wear masks in public indoor settings regardless of their vaccination status and includes students from kindergarten to college. Louisiana joins Nevada as the only states with that have reinstated mask mandates, though Nevada’s order only applies to counties with high transmission rates.

“The data in Louisiana clearly point to the severity of our situation, and the urgency to act now,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s health officer, said in a statement released by the Gov. John Bel Edwards office announcing the mandate.

Louisiana originally recommended that all residents wear masks indoors on July 23 to combat the spread of the delta variant. The advisory suggested more severe measures could later be enacted if the coronavirus outbreak continued to intensify.

As of Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services measured that nearly 14% of Louisiana’s hospital beds are being used for Covid patients and found that nearly 19% of all hospitalized patients in-state have the coronavirus.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that Louisiana experienced a seven-day average of 4,119 new coronavirus cases last week, a sharp jump from the state’s daily average of 2,414 new cases from July 18 through July 25. The governor’s office said that the state’s case growth rate, percent positivity, and hospitalizations are currently undergoing “the worst surge” of the pandemic.

The order requires facial coverings for anyone over the age of five and calls for increased vaccinations to prevent the virus from spreading. According to the CDC, Louisiana has the country’s fourth-lowest rate of first vaccine doses administered, with nearly 51% of Louisiana residents over the age of 12 receiving at least one shot as of Monday.

But the CDC also reported on Monday that Louisiana issued roughly 12,100 first doses per day last week, a 51% increase from the week before.

“We have the tools we need to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and save lives, and I am pleading with unvaccinated Louisianans to get their shot as soon as they can to protect themselves,” Edwards said in the statement.

CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this reporting.

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