BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards extended Louisiana’s statewide indoor mask mandate for another four weeks, until October 27, as the state’s overall COVID-19 outlook improves following the state’s worst COVID-19 surge of the entire pandemic. The statewide mask mandate includes K-12 schools and college campuses.
“There is no doubt that our COVID-19 situation in Louisiana has improved since the peak of our fourth surge, which was largely driven by the Delta variant, and for that I am deeply grateful,” said Gov. Edwards. “Even so, the amount of COVID in Louisiana is still incredibly high, at 243 cases for every 100,000 people, as it is disproportionately driven by transmission in those five to 18 years old. This is why to support continued decreases in COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths, I am extending Louisiana’s statewide indoor mask mandate for another four weeks, including in our K-12 schools and on college campuses,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Masks have been proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19, with recent federal data from the Centers for Disease Control showing that schools without masking requirements are 3.5 times more likely to have a COVID-19 outbreak than schools where children and staff members are masked. We must do everything we can to protect ourselves and those around us who are vulnerable, including wearing masks indoors and getting the safe, effective and totally free COVID-19 vaccine.
“On August 4, the day that the mask mandate was put back into place, only 37 percent of Louisianans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As of today, that is up to more than 45 percent. While that improvement is something to be proud of, it is not enough. Currently, our hospitalizations are down, but they are still roughly four times the pre-Delta surge baseline. In the month of September alone, Louisiana reported that 1,470 people died of COVID, which is tragic, as we know that the vast majority of these deaths were likely preventable. We have to get Louisiana’s vaccine rate up even more so that we have strong vaccine protection in our communities. Just over half of all people in Louisiana who are eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated. That’s why masking right now is important still.”
“Our COVID-19 indicators continue to move in the right direction and that is critical, but we are still wading in COVID,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer at the Louisiana Department of Health. “All 64 parishes are currently at the highest possible level on our community risk scale. With the highly transmissible Delta variant circulating throughout the state, masking indoors is how we stay safe and protect our loved ones.”
STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
Face masks that properly cover the wearer’s mouth and nose should be worn indoors at all times, unless a person is in a home, under the Governor’s statewide mask mandate, which will be in place until at least October 27, 2021.
The order requires face coverings for everyone age 5 or older or enrolled in kindergarten, except for the following:
Anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering
Anyone who is consuming a drink or food
Anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired
Anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
Anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes
Face coverings are highly encouraged for those ages 2 to 4 as tolerated.
As with the Governor’s previous mandate, children younger than kindergarten age are exempted if they cannot wear a mask. However, the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly encourage indoor mask wearing in public for all children aged two and older, especially as they are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.
HOW TO GET A COVID VACCINE IN LOUISIANA
Vaccines remain the best protection against COVID-19, as they are proven to reduce the likelihood that a person will get a serious case of COVID, be hospitalized or die of the illness. They are safe, free and available all across Louisiana for anyone who is 12 or older.
Everyone aged 12 and older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Louisiana. The FDA has fully approved the first COVID-19 vaccine – from Pfizer – for everyone 16 years old and up.
The Pfizer vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 through 15 years of age. Parents should confirm with the vaccine provider that their child is under 18 to ensure Pfizer vaccine is available before making an appointment.
COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at more than 1,000 locations in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including at pharmacies, hospitals, health care clinics, and doctor’s offices.
For a list of locations, visit LDH’s vaccine directory or visit vaccines.gov, which is maintained by the federal government.
To get a list of vaccine locations near you text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.
If you have questions, would like to speak with a medical professional, or need help scheduling an appointment, call 211 or Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.
COVID-19 BOOSTER DOSES
Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health made booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine available to adults at increased risk, following new guidance from the CDC. Anyone who is six months out from their two-dose Pfizer series is now eligible to receive a booster shot if they are:
Age 65 or older
Age 18 or older and have one of many underlying medical conditions OR
Age 18 or older and live or work in a setting that places you at risk of being exposed to COVID
As always, LDH recommends people discuss their individual situation and risk/benefit analysis with their doctor or medical practitioner. CDC and LDH will evaluate with similar urgency available data in the coming weeks to swiftly make additional recommendations for other populations or people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.