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Louisiana governor lifts indoor mask mandate except for K-12 schools

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump meets with Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards about coronavirus response at the White House in Washington

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said on Tuesday that the state was ending its indoor mask mandate, except for K-12 schools, because of the decline in the growth of new coronavirus infections.

The governor's updated order allows school districts to opt out of the mask mandate as long as they continue to follow the existing quarantine guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better separate exposed students and faculty members from others and avoid outbreaks on campus.

CDC guidance still says everyone 2 years of age or older who is not fully vaccinated should wear a mask in indoor public places.

"Today, I am cautiously optimistic and very relieved that the worst of this fourth surge of COVID is clearly behind us, which is a direct result of the people of Louisiana who stepped up to the plate when we needed them to and put their masks back on, got vaccinated, and took extra precautions to stay safe", the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Local governments and private businesses may choose to continue to require and enforce mask requirements under the governor's order, which takes effect on Wednesday, the statement added.

In August, Edwards reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state had risen.

The Southern U.S. state has had over 750,000 COVID-19 cases, with over 14,400 deaths from the coronavirus. About 56% of state residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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