ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) – The West Feliciana Parish President will not be enforcing the governor’s mask mandate. Parish President Kenny Havard said he is not anti-mask or anti-vaccine but he is ant-mandate.
“I think we have done everything we can do. We’ve made it available to anyone who wants to have a vaccine, could have one or can have one and probably should have one. I recommend the vaccine,” Havard said.
He supports people wearing a mask if they want to. He even wore one himself in a parish council meeting the night before even though he is vaccinated.
The parish previously opted in to following the mask mandate, but won’t this time. Havard said with the high vaccination rate in the parish, they shouldn’t have to. The Louisiana Department of Health reports the parish about 50% fully vaccinated, but the CDC reports the parish is closer to 70% fully vaccinated.
“What number do we have to be at where we won’t have to mask up as a state or as a parish or whatever. They don’t have those numbers, they can’t tell you,” Havard said.
The Department of Health did not immediately reply to questions about the number discrepancy.
Governor John Bel Edwards brought back the mask mandate due to the overwhelming presence of the delta variant and hospitals being at or near capacity. On Tuesday, 4,725 new cases were reported and the record-breaking hospitalizations totaled out to 2,112 people. About 90% of those in the hospital are unvaccinated. With a low vaccination rate across the state, those who are vaccinated are at risk for more exposure and potentially getting infected. A vaccinated person is less likely to get infected, but if they do they are just as likely to spread it as someone who is unvaccinated as reported by the State Health Officer in the Monday press conference.
Havard said the delta variant is something to be concerned about, but he believes masking and getting the vaccine should be a choice. Three of the four COVID beds in the West Feliciana Hospital are in use. Administration said those three are looking to be transferred to a hospital in New Orleans since the small hospital does not have an ICU.
“I have one of my very best friends in the hospital right now, he’s in ICU and he’s not doing good,” Havard said. “He may not make it. He chose not to get vaccinated. It’s his choice,”
The mask mandate goes into effect on Wednesday and will last until Sept. 1. The governor said that date could be extended based on the hospital situation in a month. At the press conference, doctors highlighted that the increase in cases and hospitalizations have not shown any sign of slowing down yet.