State mask mandate lifted

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced yesterday that the mask mandate in the state has been lifted.

While the mask mandate is lifted, the state recommends masks indoors for most. Additionally, K-12 schools must have a mask mandate or follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quarantine guideline.

“After sustained improvement across the state in new cases, test positivity and hospitalizations, I will lift Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings except for K-12 schools, which may opt out as long as they continue implementing existing CDC quarantine guidelines,” Edwards said. “Under the CDC and Louisiana Department of Health guidance that schools without mask mandates must follow, asymptomatic individuals who may have been in close contact to someone infected with COVID-19 should quarantine.”

Previously, the mask mandate had been lifted over the summer but reinstated before most schools started back due to the increase of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Cases have continued to decrease over the course of the month, when Edwards extended the mask mandate back in September.

“There is no doubt that our COVID-19 situation in Louisiana has improved since the peak of our fourth surge, which was largely driven by the Delta variant, and for that I am deeply grateful,” Edwards said when he extended the mask mandate Sept. 28. “Even so, the amount in COVID in Louisiana is still incredibly high, at 243 cases for every 100,000 people, as it is disproportionately driven by transmission in those 5 to 18 years old.”

As of Sunday, 53 percent of the population in Louisiana has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Additionally, yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee started receiving evidence for the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots for children between the ages of 5 and 11. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is available for individuals ages 12 and above. After the day’s discussion, the FDA advisers voted 17-0 with one abstention in recommending the vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. 

The advisory panel’s recommendation will now go to to the FDA, which will need to approve, and an advisory panel for the CDC will also give its recommendation next week. If the FDA authorizes the vaccine, it could be available for kids in this age group in November.

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