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Louisiana governor lifts mask mandate except for schools

Louisiana governor lifts mask mandate except for schools
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday the lifting of the state's mask mandate except for within schools. Photo courtesy of Gov. John Bel Edwards/Facebook

Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the lifting of the state's indoor mask mandate except for in schools for at least the next 28 days.

"I stand here today optimist, relieved that the worst of the fourth surge is behind us now," he said Tuesday during a press conference.

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According to the governor's office, the announcement follows dropping rates of new COVID-19 cases, test positivity and hospitalizations.

The update to the mask mandate, which was reinstated in August, allows school districts to opt out as long as they continue to follow existing quarantine guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Masks will still be mandated through federal regulations for mass transit and in healthcare facilities, his office said, adding they will not be mandated in most settings, including government buildings, university campuses and businesses.

According to state data, on Tuesday there were 323 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, which Edwards said was the lowest number since early July prior to Louisiana being hit by the Delta variant of the virus.

Amid the Delta surge, the highest number of hospitalizes was more than 3,000, he said.

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Edwards had reinstated the state's mask mandate in August in order to combat the growing outbreak.

"We have made tremendous progress, and I have no doubt that we implemented the mask mandate when we did in August was key to this," he said.

However, he warned that despite this progress that the pandemic is not over, urging residents to get vaccinated and exercise caution.

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The state has reported nearly 757,000 infections, including nearly 14,500 deaths, to the pandemic.

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