Governor announces mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge


Prakriti Adhikari/The Lion's Roar

On Saturday, July 11, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that face masks/coverings will be mandatory in all public places for individuals over the age of eight. The changes will stay in place until Friday, July 24.

Amidst record numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, Governor John Bel Edwards announced a state-wide face mask mandate and additional limitations to combat the spread of the virus. 

Edwards made the announcement during a press conference on Sunday, July 11.

The executive order came to effect on July 13, Monday night that added the following restrictions to phase two of the state’s reopening plan: a mandate for all citizens above the age of eight to wear face masks or facial coverings while in public, the closure of all bars in the state and the limitation of 50 people for all indoor gatherings. 

These changes will stay in place until Friday, July 24. Edwards stated that he will examine the data and trends at that time to determine the next steps for reopening. 

Edwards explained that the record high of 2642 new cases on Friday, June 10, a positive testing rate that exceeded 10% and an increase in hospitalizations pushed him to implement the new measures. 

“Today, we are number three in terms of cases per capita behind only New York and New Jersey,” said Edwards. “Obviously, we hope to avoid going backward and close businesses again, but what we cannot do is go back to a time where we are running out of hospitals and venular.” 

Edwards also stressed that he does not want to reverse the course. 

“We are trying very hard not to revert back to phase one or phase two because we are trying to balance the public health imperatives with the economy on the one hand and the ability to open schools next month and a whole lot of other things that are going on,” explained Edwards. 

Edwards shared that understands that the new measures, particularly the mask mandate, will be controversial, he believes these are minor prices to pay. He also urged citizens not to turn mask-wearing into a political issue. 

“It is the necessary thing to do, it is the right thing to do under the circumstances,” said Edwards. “That’s why we are going to do it. We cannot let this illness win.”

Editor’s note: Edited for timeliness. 07/14/2020