BATON ROGUE, La. (AP) – Louisiana on Monday reinstated a mask mandate in all indoor locations, including schools and colleges, as the states struggles with surging COVID-19 cases because of the delta variant and one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the mandate less than three months after he lifted a previous face-covering requirement amid hopes that the virus was abating.
The mandate will apply to anyone age 5 and older – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – who enters a business, a school, a church or other inside location.
Just under 43 percent of the state’s residents have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine – one of the lowest rates in the nation. The state is seeing one of the country’s worst COVID-19 spikes per capita.
The mask requirement had particular urgency for Edwards as students start returning to some K-12 schools this week.
Louisiana’s education leaders had declined to enact any masking orders across all districts, leaving it to individual school systems to determine their plans. The governor’s executive order will end the district-by-district negotiations.
Edwards’ order will last until Sept. 1, but could be extended beyond that.