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Broome not ready to implement mask mandate for parish buildings despite BREC reinstating restrictions

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said she is not ready to follow BREC’s lead to reinstate a mask mandate.

The parish’s park system announced Tuesday, July 20, it would require masks for all visitors inside its indoor facilities following a surge in COVID cases. The policy requires anyone inside of a BREC building for more than 15 minutes to wear a mask unless they can show proof they have received a vaccine. Superintendent Corey Wilson said it was a precaution to “protect both our team members and park visitors.”

RELATED: BREC reinstates mask policy at indoor facilities

BREC already required summer camp participants who are not vaccinated to wear the facial coverings.

Any activity outside does not require a mask, per CDC guidelines.

The decision came as EBR Parish experiences a steady increase in COVID cases and low vaccination rates. According to doctors from Baton Rouge General, Our Lady of the Lake, and the Louisiana Dept. of Health, only 40% of the parish has been vaccinated. Only 23% of 18-29-year-olds are fully vaccinated. That group represents the largest portion of the parish’s population. Hospitals are also reporting more children are being admitted with the virus.

“We are seeing more kids at our hospitals with COVID-19; we are seeing more kids in our ICU with COVID-19,” said OLOL Children’s Hospital Dr. Michael Bolton. “We’ve given more antivirus medicine in the last several weeks than we have in the past six months from the severity of the illness in our kids.”

Doctors, speaking with Mayor Broome, pleaded with the unvaccinated public to get their shot, asking them to protect the most vulnerable.

“Please do it for those who are the most vulnerable - your kids, your niece, your grandson - they cannot get the vaccine. They depend on you to make the right decision to save them from the pandemic,” explained Bolton.

If those rates do not increase, though, Broome said she is open to considering reinstating restrictions, including masks inside parish buildings.

“If we get to a point where things are just out of control with the COVID-19 variant, then we have to look seriously at all options,” added Broome.

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