“I think this is incredibly important,” Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said in a briefing.
Edwards pointed to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study that found that schools with mask mandates had a reduced transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus when compared to schools that didn’t.
Researchers said a “crude analysis” from Maricopa and Pima counties shows that “the odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak in schools without a mask requirement were 3.5 times higher than those in schools with an early mask requirement.”
Experts are split on the use of masks to prevent the spread of the CCP virus. Some studies have indicated that they have a negligible effect.
“We know there’s a lot less disruption to schools because far fewer children actually have to quarantine when there was a positive case identified at schools when both the individual who tests positive and those in close proximity to them are wearing masks,” Edwards said.
The governor acknowledged that children have a remote chance of contracting severe cases of COVID-19, but said they can transmit the CCP virus, as part of his reasoning for extending the mandate. He also claimed that recent transmission of the virus was being driven by youth in schools and that masks are needed for protection, as fewer than half of Louisianans are fully vaccinated.
“With the highly transmissible Delta variant circulating throughout the state, masking indoors is how we stay safe and protect our loved ones,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s top health officer, said in a statement.
The order, now in effect until Oct. 27, requires people to wear masks indoors at all times except in their homes.
Exceptions are built in for people who are eating, drinking, or in some other situations. Kids aged 4 or younger are exempt.
Edwards let the order lapse earlier this year, but reinstated it in early August after the state saw a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Louisiana has recently seen a dip in new cases and hospitalizations. Statewide hospitalizations dropped to less than 1,000 for the first time since July, officials said. The percent of emergency room visits that concern COVID-19 have also dropped to 4.2 percent, while new cases have declined for more than a month.