Baton Rouge prepares for new mask mandate
BATON ROUGE — As Louisiana continues to contend with a surge in coronavirus cases, residents of the capital city are adjusting to a new mandate that requires them to wear either a mask or face covering while inside of a business.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued the announcement Wednesday, following an announcement of the state's largest daily coronavirus case spike since April.
Statewide, nearly 2,100 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Wednesday, accompanied by a steady rise in numbers of hospitalizations. Health experts are concerned that recent numbers mirror those seen in early April, which was before Louisiana's stay-at-home mandate helped to allay the spread of the virus.
“This disease is coming back, and it’s coming back with a vengeance, and we better start getting serious,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer.
Louisiana’s health department said the increases aren’t all tied to more testing and aren’t in group settings, such as nursing homes. Nearly all the cases reported Wednesday, the health department said, are tied to community spread.
While Governor John Bel Edwards already issued an order for workers who deal with the public to wear masks, Mayor Broome has expanded that order in Baton Rouge, to include patrons of businesses.
She explained her reasons during a Wednesday news conference.
“My message is simple. Save a life, save our economy and wear a face covering,” Broome said at a news conference with Edwards.
Shortly after Broome's announcement, the mayors of Central and Zachary announced they would not require patrons to wear masks and some residents expressed concern that the mask requirement undermined their freedom.
Mayor Broome took to Twitter, posting, “I understand the concern of our community. Wearing a mask can be unpleasant. When we look at our stakes, our inconvenience is trivial in comparison to what is at risk, and the loss we have faced in our community thus far. These small sacrifices will allow us to move forward.”
I understand the concern of our community. Wearing a mask can be unpleasant.— Sharon Weston Broome (@MayorBroome) July 1, 2020
When we look at our stakes, our inconvenience is trivial in comparison to what is at risk, and the loss we have faced in our community thus far.
These small sacrifices will allow us to move forward.
Broome said her decision came as Baton Rouge saw the largest single day increase in new coronavirus cases in the last six weeks and the third-largest since Louisiana’s outbreak began in mid-March. Several bars near Louisiana State University have reported localized outbreaks.
Businesses could face misdemeanor fines for not enforcing the mask requirements. Gyms and churches are exempt from the mandate, along with people who are eating and drinking.
Click HERE to view the Mayor's executive order.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell previously issued a mask requirement for nearly all activities in her city, and the New Orleans suburb of Jefferson Parish on Wednesday began enforcing a mandate for masks inside businesses and public places.
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