BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Governor John Bel Edwards has announced the lift of the mask mandate with the exception of K-12 schools as the fourth COVID-19 surge slows.
School districts will be allowed to opt-out of the mask mandate as long as they continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
He said hospitalizations continue to drop to their lowest numbers since July.
“We have made tremendous progress and I have no doubt that reinstating the mask mandate was key to this,” said Edwards.
He continues to urge residents to get vaccinated before the Christmas holiday. Additionally, per CDC recommendation, Edwards said people should continue to mask in high-traffic areas as mandated by federal regulation. This includes areas such as public transportation and healthcare facilities.
Masks will not be mandated in the majority of places — including government buildings, college and university campuses and businesses, according to Edwards.
Local university campuses to keep mask mandates
In a tweet, LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard said the university will continue to have COVID-19 protocols in place, including the indoor mask mandate, for the rest of the semester.
According to Southern University’s spokesperson, the university’s mask mandate will stay in place. Any changes will be announced in the future.
COVID-19 hospitalizations decline, increase in testing
State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said he feels confident in the decline in COVID-19 and reports an overall increase in testing.
Kanter reiterated quarantine guidelines for schools per CDC and Louisiana Department of Health recommendation.
Under the following criteria quarantine is not necessary:
- Individuals who are fully vaccinated at the time of exposure and remain asymptomatic
- Individuals who previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and remain asymptomatic
- If both the positive case and the contact were masked AND were ≥ 3 feet of each other and remain asymptomatic (only applies to students in structured K-12 settings)
Duration: The standard length is 14 days; however, schools can choose to use shortened quarantine options.
Options to shorten quarantine include:
- If no symptoms develop during quarantine AND they have a negative antigen or PCR/molecular test collected on day 5, 6, or 7 after last exposure: they may quarantine for 7 days from last contact with a COVID-19 case OR
- If no symptoms develop during quarantine and no testing is done: they may quarantine for 10 days from last contact with a COVID-19 case
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, vaccine lottery continues
On Oct. 26, FDA advisers endorsed child-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11.
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to individuals aged 12 and older, according to LDH officials. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one FDA-approved for children ages 12 to 17.
LDH’s Shot For 100 has four days left. Visit shotfor100.com to find a participating site and receive a $100 gift card.
To find any COVID-19 vaccination location, visit www.vaccines.gov. Anyone who wishes to speak to a medical professional about the vaccine can call 211 or Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.