New Orleans officials on Wednesday issued an advisory telling people they should wear mask indoors, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.
Everyone—vaccinated or unvaccinated—is being asked to wear a mask indoors when with people who are not members of their immediate family.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that instead of an indoor mask mandate, the indoor mask advisory is “putting more responsibility on residents in our community that have yet to be vaccinated.”
The announcement comes two months after the city lifted its mask mandate.
The state also reported 844 hospitalizations linked to the CCP virus—up by more than 600 since June 19.
New Orleans reported 185 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The seven-day average of new cases reported now stands at 117, which is a ten-fold increase over the past two weeks, noted the mayor’s office.
“The majority of cases are among unvaccinated individuals, and 97% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated individuals,” the statement from Cantrell’s office reads. “Because there is so much virus circulating in the community, there is also an alarming increase in ‘breakthrough’ cases among vaccinated New Orleanians. So far, the vast majority of breakthrough cases have been mild.”
The statement continues, “Masking has been proven to significantly mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Residents are asked to wear masks in indoor settings when with people who are not members of their immediate household.
“However, residents are also reminded that COVID vaccines continue to be our way out of the pandemic. While 69.1% of eligible adults have received at least their first shot, many in the community remain unprotected.”
New Orleans Health Department Director Jennifer Avegno said in a statement that officials were left with “no choice” but to announce the mask advisory due to “alarming transmission data” over the past two weeks, as well as an “inadequate vaccination rate.”
“People who continue to refuse to take the lifesaving COVID vaccine are now also putting the entire community in jeopardy. We must take action now to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant,” Avegno added. She also encouraged those who have been vaccinated to “tell their story to a family member, neighbor, or colleague: that vaccines are safe, effective, and lifesaving.”
Researchers have said it’s too early to say whether the Delta variant of the CCP virus is more or less deadly than other variants. Correspondence published in The Lancet in June suggested that the chance of hospitalization may be higher with the Delta variant compared to the earlier Alpha variant.
More than 48 percent of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the virus as of July 21, according to the CDC, while more than 56 percent have had at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine.
Vaccine providers and individuals can report any serious adverse effects or vaccination administration errors to VAERS, hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Vaccine manufacturers are immune from liability for any adverse reactions to their products unless there’s “willful misconduct” involved.