Louisiana Governor lifts mask mandate


Timothy Holdiness

Kamarreo Jernigan wearing a mask while reading in the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a press conference that he will be ending the statewide mask mandate, except for certain schools.

“After sustained improvement across the state in new cases, test positivity and hospitalizations, I will lift Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings, except for K-12 schools, which may opt out as long as they continue implementing existing CDC quarantine guidance,” said Edwards.

Edwards said that the state has seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases since the latest spike in August. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there have been an average of 491 new COVID-19 cases in the state in the last week, against the Aug. 13 peak of 5,839 new cases of the virus.

Edwards said that his reasoning for keeping the mask mandate in place for younger students is due to their inability to receive the vaccine, as those 12 and under are ineligible to be given the vaccine.

“You can choose whether to take your child to a grocery store or Tiger Stadium. But they have to go to school,” said Edwards.

Depending on the quarantine requirements in each area of the state, Edwards says that it is up to the leaders of the school system to choose how to implement the masking policy.

Some students at Northwestern State University of Louisiana feel Edwards’ decision is a step in the right direction.

“It is bringing us one step closer to normalcy,” Kristin Vice, senior accounting major, said. “I think being able to see smiles again after the crazy two years we’ve had is just what we need.”

“According to the CDC, last month, Louisiana had the second lowest case rate per capita,” said Brandon Larkin, senior accounting major. “With this, combined with the fact that NSU is now requiring proof of vaccination, I believe the mask mandate should be lifted for the 2022 Spring semester as well.”

Masks will still be required to be worn at medical facilities, on public transport, at airports and on planes according to federal mask regulations.

Edwards says that individual businesses will have the freedom to enforce a mask policy as they please inside their properties.

The administration of NSU has not released any information regarding the mask mandate at time of publishing. Information regarding the decision will be added.