Edwards officially extends ‘Phase Two’

Published 2:31 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

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On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an extension of his order keeping Louisiana in “Phase Two” and extending his statewide mask mandate, the closure of bars to on-premises consumption and the limitation on gatherings of more than 50 people for at least another 21 days, through Friday, Aug. 28.

Edwards’ order to mandate masks and restrict bars matches recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the advice of public health experts advising the governor. The governor’s order was upheld by Judge Janice Clark in the 19th Judicial District Court on Thursday.

The governor’s order is largely unchanged from his previous one. The new order does remove a provision that allowed parishes to opt out of the statewide mask mandate if their parish dropped below a certain incidence level of COVID. No parish meets this requirement, and recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force support a statewide mandate.

Louisiana has seen modest improvements in its COVID-19 situation in recent days, following the governor’s mask mandate and bar restrictions. Reports of COVID-like illness, case counts and hospitalizations are trending down statewide, per data from the Louisiana Department of Health.

“We’re just asking everyone to do your part and to understand that the progress we have started to see over the last several days is positive, but we can lose it. If we do what we did after Memorial Day, we will lose our positive gains,” Edwards said. “On the other hand, if more people will comply with the mitigation measures, we will actually accelerate the improvements we are making and they will be long lasting.

“We can lower our transmission rate and save lives. We’ve got a long way to go, but I am optimistic that we are going to get there. We have flattened the curve once, and we can do it again by doubling down on these effective, proven mitigation measures.”