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Will Louisiana's governor lift the mask mandate? Decision will reportedly be made Tuesday

Gov. John Bel Edwards gets a COVID-19 booster shot and the flu vaccine at Baton Rouge General Hospital on Oct. 6, 2021.
Courtesy of the Office of Governor John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards gets a COVID-19 booster shot and the flu vaccine at Baton Rouge General Hospital on Oct. 6, 2021.

Louisiana’s indoor mask mandate could either be extended or lifted by Gov. John Bel Edwards during a Tuesday afternoon press conference, according to reports.

It is not yet known if Edwards will keep the mask mandate in effect, particularly at public schools, where children under 12 are still ineligible for vaccination. Case numbers have been highest among children between five and 17 years old since mid-August, and while it’s rare for children to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, this summer’s surge of the delta variant brought more severe cases and deaths among children than at any other point in the pandemic.

In late May, Edwards removed most coronavirus restrictions, including masks in schools, a month after lifting the mask rule for the general public. It then became the choice of the individual school districts on whether or not to continue the mandate.

Even after the lifted restrictions, the mask mandate stayed in place for public transportation, health facilities and prisons and jails because it’s a federal mandate.

Tuesday’s decision comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have reached their lowest points since July, which marked the unprecedented fourth wave and resulted in the reinstated mask rule Aug. 4. The state health department reported 878 new cases and 332 COVID-19 patients in hospitals Monday, a significant improvement from August, when new cases peaked at more than 7,000 in a single day.

The state hasn’t recorded more than 1,000 cases in a single day since Oct. 4, and hospitalizations have remained below 1,000 since Sept. 27, indicating a decline in community spread of the virus. For the most recent updates on COVID-19 data, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Aubry is a reporter, producer and operations assistant in Baton Rouge.