By William Patrick | The Center Square
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed Louisiana’s COVID-19 situation Friday and tried to dispel any notion his recent indoor mask mandate is without good cause – a reference to the state attorney general.
Edwards voiced a somber tone as he recounted new information from the Louisiana Department of Health.
“We have no reason to believe in our data that we’ve reached the peak or that we’re coming down,” Edwards said. “If anything, things are worse today than they were on Monday.”
The assessment comes amid record hospitalizations and infection growth, as well as the highest infection rate per capita in the country.
According to a presentation from State Health Officer Joseph Kanter, Louisiana is experiencing 982 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and met the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly benchmark for “high transmission” every day for the past two weeks.
“Unfortunately, the eyes of the nation are largely on Louisiana right now,” Edwards said, before pivoting to statistics about children and his mask mandate covering K-12 students.
“At New Orleans Children’s Hospital, I believe there are 13 children hospitalized right now, including six under the age of 2,” he said, adding, “Why wouldn’t we send our kids to school with a mask on?”
Edwards later bristled during a question about Attorney General Jeff Landry’s effort to provide parents the ability to opt-out of the governor’s mask mandate if they feel it’s harmful to their children.
“It is my job to protect the rights of Louisiana citizens,” Landry said Thursday on social media.
“I have received numerous questions from mothers and fathers, concerned about government mandates on their children. Our citizens have rights; parents have rights; and those rights are worth protecting. The question is: ‘who gets to determine the healthcare choices for you and your child?’ In a free society, the answer is the citizen – not the state,” Landry said.
Landry posted a template earlier this week for parents and students to opt-out of mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies based on religious and philosophical disagreements.
During Friday’s news conference, Edwards was adamant masks are a critical coronavirus mitigation tool and said Landry was going out of his way to undermine confidence in them.