BLAKE PATERSON | Staff writer
When Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted Louisiana’s mask mandate at the end of April, he warned that loosening restrictions wasn’t a “one way street” and that he would reimpose the rules if COVID-19 came roaring back.
On Monday, as hospitals statewide buckled under an unprecedented surge in patients, Edwards followed through on his word.
Schools, businesses, universities, churches, and any other indoor public settings in Louisiana will require a face mask for entry beginning on Wednesday, under a proclamation Edwards signed that expires September 1.
“It has become extremely clear that our current recommendations on their own are not strong enough to deal with Louisiana’s fourth surge of COVID. In fact, nobody should be laboring under the misapprehension that this just another surge,” Edwards told reporters Monday in announcing the order he had already signed. “This is the worst one we’ve had thus far.”
The return to restrictions comes as the pandemic enters a new stage defined by the delta variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 first identified in India that now accounts for most new cases in Louisiana. On Monday, the state reported 11,109 new confirmed and probable infections of COVID-19. More than 2,000 of those cases were among children.
The three coronavirus vaccines available in Louisiana continue to provide immense protection against the delta variant. Those who are fully vaccinated are 25-times less likely to get hospitalized or die from COVID-19, and eight-times less likely to get infected in the first place, said Dr. Joe Kanter, the state health officer.
But recent data suggests that unlike previous strains of COVID-19, when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with the delta variant, they can be just as contagious as unvaccinated people.
“While vaccination reduces one’s chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, if you are fully vaccinated, and you do become infected with COVID-19, you can still relatively easily transmit the virus to other people,” Kanter said.
“This is new with delta. And this is why with delta, unfortunately, when we are in a surge, which we are now, it is not enough to say you only need to mask if your unvaccinated,” Kanter added.
The delta variant has ripped through Louisiana in recent weeks, and hospitals statewide are buckling under a tsunami of COVID-19 patients – the vast majority of which are unvaccinated. Doctors from several Louisiana hospitals facing an acute shortage of staff pleaded with the public on Monday to take up mask-wearing.
Hospitalizations soared on Monday to include 1,984 patients, and Edwards said that Tuesday’s update will top the previous record set on Jan. 7, during the virus’s third wave, when there were 2,069 people hospitalized. The vast majority of patients are unvaccinated.
Click HERE on this a link to see the slides being used during the press conference.
“I cannot in good conscience sit by while our hospitals lose the capacity to deliver life-saving care to COVID patients and non-COVID patients alike,” Edwards said.
At Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the number of COVID-positive patients stood at 155 on Monday – accounting for nearly a quarter of the hospital’s capacity. The facility welcomed a 33-member disaster strike team from the federal government on Monday, which will be capable of staffing six additional ICU beds.
“These are the darkest days of our pandemic. We are no longer giving adequate care to our patients,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal … Continue Reading Full Story >>>