Gov. John Bel Edwards says end to statewide mask mandate could be in sight.

By T. Scott Boatright

At his weekly briefing Thursday on Louisiana’s response to COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards indicated an end to the statewide mask mandate could be in sight.

He said that decision will depend on data that should be known by next week.

“Well, nothing is off the table until I receive the briefing and get recommendations and make a decision,” Edwards said during the press conference.

But there are still come concerns about the coronavirus. State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter during the briefing said that two key indicators are going in the wrong direction — percent positivity has increased recently in eight out of the state’s nine Louisiana Department of Health regions, and the UK variant of the coronavirus has now been detected in all but one parish.

Edwards talked about plans to ramp up the statewide “Bring Back Louisiana” vaccination campaign previously announced in March during Thursday’s press briefing. The campaign officially begins today with vaccination events in all nine public health regions of the state.

“We are trying very hard to meet people where they are and this is especially important once you get to a point where the demand no longer exceeds supply,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported Thursday that more than 1.15 million vaccine series had been completed statewide and another 1.45 million have been initiated, for a total of 2,522,672 million doses administered to date.

Region 8, which includes Lincoln Parish has a vaccination rate of 21.36%.

The LDH reported 615 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight new deaths Thursday. Those numbers brought the total confirmed cases in the state to 455,000 and the number deaths due to the coronavirus to 10,324.

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