Louisiana announced on Monday it is reimposing indoor mask mandates regardless of vaccination status, becoming the first state to do so after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) altered its recommendation to say that vaccinated people should also wear masks in some indoor areas.
The CDC last week published the data that has driven its revision for guidelines about mask wearing. According to the data, among outbreaks of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus at large public gatherings in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 74 percent of 469 infections were among those who had been fully vaccinated. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP virus.
According to a statement from the governor’s office, it said the CDC’s data suggests that while vaccination reduces a person’s chance of becoming infected with COVID-19, those who do contract the Delta variant, even though they may be fully vaccinated, may still transmit it to others.
“After reviewing new data from the CDC, speaking with public health advisors and hearing from hospital leadership and the business community, I am reinstating Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate indoors, including in schools to protect our children who are too young to be vaccinated and our teachers and staff,” Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said in a statement.
“This decision is not one I take lightly, but as the fourth surge of COVID-19 is upon us, we know that mask wearing when you are in public is one way to greatly lower your risk of spreading or catching COVID,” he added.
The mandate comes into effect on Aug. 4, although residents are being asked to adhere to the new rule immediately.
According to the new mandate, those aged five or over are required to wear a mask indoors unless at home. The mandate will remain in place until at least Sept. 1 but “may be extended if necessary,” according to the release from the governor’s office.
The release noted that Louisiana is in the midst of a fourth surge of COVID-19, which it calls the “worst surge of the COVID-19 pandemic so far in terms of case growth rate, percent positivity, and hospitalizations.”
The governor’s office said that amid the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, cases in Louisiana have grown “exponentially” and the state has recorded the most new CCP virus cases per capita nationwide.
“The temporary indoor statewide mask mandate will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and limit suffering and death in Louisiana until we are through this fourth surge,” the office added.
The mandate will apply to all K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions in the state. Students and staff are set to return to on-campus learning this month.
Exceptions to wearing a mask indoors include any medical condition that prevents wearing a mask, eating or drinking, communicating with hearing impaired persons, giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, or needing to remove the mask for identification purposes.
In California, San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties also announced on Monday new indoor mask mandates, to take effect on Tuesday. Similar to Louisiana, the mask requirements will apply regardless of a person’s vaccination status.