COVID emergency order extended again, though Gov. John Bel Edwards eyes its termination
The COVID-19 emergency proclamation was renewed once again for Louisiana for another 28 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday during a press conference, though he hinted at finally terminating the order by or before its expiration date due to falling case numbers and rising immunity amid omicron.
The order, which has been in place since Louisiana became a hot spot in early 2020, was extended through March 16, as New Orleans and much of the region begins Carnival celebrations and prepares for a busy Mardi Gras week Feb. 23 through March 1.
“I’m mindful that a number of states have allowed their public health orders or proclamations to expire,” Edwards said. “I’ve decided not to do that today because we still have 1,135 people in the hospital and also because every parish remains red or in high transmission.”
In addition to those hospitalization numbers, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 3,039 cases and 41 deaths. All three data sets have slightly dropped since the worst of omicron just after the holidays, when cases were at one point 6 times higher than they were Monday.
Edwards said Louisiana peaked in cases and hospitalizations in late January. He pointed to trends in cases, vaccination rates, current immunity of the state post-omicron and the changing, less severe variants as reasons to consider terminating the proclamation.
“Before we entertain the possibility of not renewing the public health order, I just want to make sure it’s not going to interfere with the important work that is being done by service members and healthcare professionals across the state,” Edwards said.
He added that he wouldn’t want the removal of the order to also interfere with the availability of resources that hospitals are able to get while under the proclamation.
Under the extended order, Edwards said a mask mandate would not be put in place for the public, though he urged residents to wear masks anyway, especially during Carnival. The governor also said those who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated should “weigh the risks” or get vaccinated before attending Mardi Gras events.
LDH will hold a briefing Tuesday on updated K-12 public health guidelines as well as tips for a safe Mardi Gras.