Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana lifted the state’s indoor masks mandate on Tuesday for a minimum of the following 4 weeks.
“I stand right here right now optimistic, relieved that the worst of the fourth surge is behind us now,” mentioned Mr. Edwards, a Democrat. “We’ve made super progress, and I’ve little doubt that reinstating the masks mandate was key to this.”
However he cautioned that the pandemic was not over, and reminded residents who weren’t totally vaccinated to observe federal steering and put on a masks. He additionally mentioned that the state lagged far behind in vaccinations, rating forty fifth within the nation.
Solely 56 p.c of state residents 12 and over are totally vaccinated, in line with knowledge from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Indoor masking continues to be required for college students in public faculties, which can decide out so long as they proceed following quarantine steering from the Facilities for Illness Management. No college students beneath age 12 are vaccinated, however an F.D.A. panel endorsed Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 12 months olds on Tuesday afternoon.
Louisiana’s masks requirement was reinstated in August in a bid to sluggish group unfold of the extra contagious Delta variant, because the state confronted its fourth and worst surge of the coronavirus. Louisiana was averaging greater than 4,300 new instances per day within the first week of August, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The state had the highest per capita rate of new cases in the country and its hospitals were overflowing with patients.
The mandate helped turn the trend lines around, and the picture looks much more positive in the last week of October, the governor said. The state is averaging 500 new coronavirus cases a day, a 31 percent decrease in the last two weeks, according to Times data.
The number of people hospitalized has dropped 39 percent and deaths have declined 27 percent in the last two weeks. The numbers are among the state’s lowest since the pandemic began, according to state health department data.
Mr. Edwards said that the number of hospitalized Covid patients on Tuesday was just 323, the state’s lowest number since July 2, from a peak of 3,022 10 weeks ago during the Delta surge.
Many of Louisiana’s parishes are still considered at high risk for Covid exposure, according to the C.D.C.