Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards urged in a press release Friday for residents to wear masks indoors when social distancing is not possible.
The governor's remarks come on the heels of news that cases of COVID-19 are spiking again in Louisiana, most likely due in part to the highly transmissible delta variant and the state's low vaccination rates.
"The White House has notified Louisiana that we are a state of concern because we are the leading edge of the COVID-19 surge, due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant among the unvaccinated in our state," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edward said. "Indeed, Louisiana leads the nation in case growth, with 47 cases per capita."
"This should come as no surprise," he added, "to anyone who has watched our case counts and hospitalizations continue to climb, and it necessitates additional guidance for how all people should stay safe in Louisiana right now, including wearing masks indoors, when unable to maintain social distancing, testing after suspected exposure even if they are vaccinated and, if possible, working remotely from home to limit exposure to groups."
The press release included guidelines that all residents should wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status.
The governor touted the state already has "the best tool" to fight the virus, "the COVID-19 vaccines." Though the vaccination rate in Louisiana has increased, Edwards urged, "we need even more people in our state to go sleeves up and take the COVID-19 vaccine."
"Increased vaccinations, when coupled with more masking, testing and distance, can get us out of the fourth surge, but only if people take action quickly," Edwards added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 41% of Louisiana residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while only 36% are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, a state health officer, stated, "we are in a very dangerous surge right now."
"To ensure their own safety people in Louisiana should take precautions immediately," he added. "Masking and testing will limit death and suffering until we make it through this."
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