BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - At least five states have dropped or rolled back their mask mandates, including Texas and Mississippi.
And now a letter from some Louisiana lawmakers is asking the governor to do the same here.
Citing the progress the people of Louisiana have made in the fight against COVID-19, hospitalizations on the decline, and a variety of new treatments for COVID-19, State Representative Rick Edmonds is 1 of 33 Louisiana House lawmakers, saying now is the time to open Louisiana fully back up.
“And let’s all join together and say, man this is the time to move the State of Louisiana, where she needs to be,” said Rep. Rick Edmonds (R), House District 66.
Edmonds says a lot of businesses are still struggling without being able to open up 100%, and with more doses of vaccines on the way, we are in a better place than we were before.
“We know we’re not finished with the pandemic. I’m not suggesting that everything is over. But, I think when you look at what other states are doing, we don’t want to be the last on the list,” said Rep. Edmonds.
Back in October of 2020, House Republican lawmakers signed a petition invoking state rules that allow them to put an end to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Governor John Bel Edwards, at least temporarily. The petition was signed by 65 House lawmakers.
In a court hearing Thursday, Nov. 12, a Louisiana judge denied the Speaker of the House’s request for Governor John Bel Edwards to follow a petition that would have prevented him from issuing a new COVID-19 executive order.
The new letter is not a petition. But, it comes just one day after Louisiana officially entered Phase 3, under which most places like restaurants and salons can now operate at 75% capacity with social distancing. But the mask mandate remains in place.
“To see another letter to end the mask mandate was very unfortunate,” said State Representative Ted James (D), District 101.
James is 39 years old and fought for his life last year when he was diagnosed with Covid-19. James says now is not the time to ease up on all restrictions yet. He says vaccinations are underway, but not nearly enough people have gotten the shot.
“We’ve learned because of my experience, because of Luke Letlow’s experience, that Covid doesn’t discriminate. We have one member who actually signed that letter, who’s only a member of the legislature because our previous colleague died from Covid-19,” said Rep. James.
Reaction to easing restrictions like wearing a mask, is divided.
“Certainly, there are many of us that have not had the vaccine yet. I truly believe that the mandate should be in place for a little while longer,” said Iryn Butler, a Baton Rouge resident.
“I think they should end the mask mandates. I am a performer here, so the Phase 3 guidelines for venues are kind of like a bummer for me. But I’m ready to open up,” said Cara Long.
Health experts say while some states have dropped their mask mandates, the recommendations to wear a mask and social distance haven’t changed just yet.
“And I will encourage everybody, we’re almost done, we’re almost through this. To just hold on a little bit longer to the basic rules, and we’ll see the end of the pandemic this year,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal with Our Lady of the Lake.
House Republican lawmakers have signed a petition invoking state rules that allow them to put an end to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Governor John Bel Edwards, at least temporarily.
The petition was signed by 65 House Republicans Friday, Oct. 23.
A spokesperson with the governor’s office told WAFB, “Gov. Edwards hasn’t read the letter, but he has consistently relied on recommendations from the CDC, LDH and other medical experts- none of whom have recommended removing the mask mandate.”
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