NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards on Saturday ratcheted up Louisiana’s restrictions to combat the coronavirus’s spread, saying he’s instituting a statewide mask mandate, putting tougher limits on group gatherings and shuttering bars.
The tightened requirements will take effect Monday, the Democratic governor said. The order is aimed at trying to curb a sharp rise in infections of COVID-19 that is sparking troubling surges in hospitalization rates.
Masks will be required when entering establishments statewide, though some parishes can opt out if they meet certain thresholds for the virus. Those parishes are Grant, Red River and West Feliciana, Edwards said.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered that face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state, a dramatic ramp-up of the Republican’s efforts to control spiking numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
“Things will get worse, and let me explain why,” he told KLBK TV in Lubbock. “The deaths that we’re seeing announced today and yesterday — which are now over 100 — those are people who likely contracted COVID-19 in late May.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive.”
Texans will also likely see an increase in cases next week, Abbott said, and people abiding by his face mask requirement might be the only thing standing between businesses remaining open and another shutdown.
“The public needs to understand this was a very tough decision for me to make,” Abbott told KLBK of his face mask mandate. “I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19 … the next step would have to be a lockdown.”
Abbott has pushed that message repeatedly in television interviews this week. But he emphasized Friday that another shutdown was not imminent but was possible and he pointed to steps he has taken so far to scale back reopening in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the mask order and a requirement that bars, once again, close their doors. He has also tightened restaurant capacity limits.