Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Tuesday, Oct. 26, that he’s lifting Louisiana’s indoor mask mandate but is keeping in place face covering requirements for K-12 schools unless schools opt out and use the CDC’s quarantine policies.
“After sustained improvement across the state in new cases, test positivity & hospitalizations, I will lift Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings except for K-12 schools, which may opt out as long as they continue implementing existing CDC quarantine guidance,” Edwards said.
Masks will still be required at airports, on planes, on public transportation and in medical facilities because of federal rules.
“We are encouraged about our current COVID trends, but remain mindful of our profound loss as a result of the last surge and cognizant that we will remain vulnerable to an equally damaging surge unless more of our friends, family and neighbors choose to get vaccinated,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.
The statewide mask mandate for public indoor locations is set to expire on Oct. 27.
Edwards reinstated Louisiana’s mask mandate in August as the state faced its fourth and worst surge of the coronavirus illness and held the unwanted position of having the highest per capita COVID-19 infection growth in the nation.
Shortly after the mandate resumed, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 per day peaked at a high of more than 3,000 and then started to fall. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has dropped to 332, the lowest it’s been since early July and among the lowest number since the pandemic began, according to state health department data.
Louisiana now has one of the nation’s lowest per capita rates of new COVID-19 infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of new infections and the percentage of COVID-19 tests returning positive also have dropped over the last few months.