Healthcare, Business Leaders Support Gov. Edwards’ Mask Mandate to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 During Worst Surge Yet

Published 5:06 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

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BATON ROUGE — Healthcare and business leaders from across Louisiana have spoken out in support of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ mask mandate, which will help limit suffering and death as the state experiences its worst surge yet. The statewide indoor mask mandate, when coupled with efforts to increase Louisiana’s vaccination rate, is an important way to improve Louisiana’s COVID-19 situation without further harming Louisiana’s small businesses.

Here is a sample of some of the leaders who support Gov. Edwards reinstating the mask mandate. A link to all of the letters of support is below.

“As Louisiana once again faces another COVID-19 wave being fueled by the Delta variant, the demand being placed on hospitals across the state is simply unsustainable. The Louisiana Hospital Association, along with many of our hospitals and health systems, continues to promote the use of mitigation measures, such as the use of face coverings indoors, social distancing, limiting the size of indoor gatherings, and most importantly, getting vaccinated…,” said Paul Salles, president and chief executive officer, Louisiana Hospital Association.

“We write to express our strong support for your issuance of a statewide mask requirement, with a particular focus on children, teachers and support staff in K-12 institutions…Unfortunately, the worst of this COVID-19 surge is yet to come…,” said Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief and chief academic officer, Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

“The health and safety of workers, communities and the environment is always a priority for the natural gas and oil industry, and never more so than during a global pandemic. Our industry, like the state of Louisiana is resilient and we have come too far in this pandemic to go backwards. We must come together and do our part to get past this surge and back on the road to economic recovery,” said Tyler Gray, president and general counsel, Louisiana Mid-Continental Oil and Gas Association.

“Our restaurants, bars and venues are still struggling to restore their business and recover from the long period of capacity restrictions. Asking patrons to wear a mask is a simple step that can help reduce COVID spread and it can protect our team members while they deliver our amazing cuisine and hospitality.  And we encourage everyone to consider taking the vaccine so we can return to normal faster,” said Stan Harris, president and chief executive officer, Louisiana Restaurant Association.

“Our members are very disappointed that it’s come to this. The past 16 months have put a tremendous strain on Louisiana’s small business. Some businesses closed permanently while others have continued to struggle to keep the doors open. Owners have faced a staffing shortage, disruptions in the supply chain, and uncertainty about whether they can provide the goods and services their customers need while protecting everyone from this potentially deadly virus. Small business is taking the pandemic seriously, and we encourage them to follow today’s executive order. Our members understand that the sooner this virus is brought under control, the sooner we can avoid an economic downturn because of it,” said Dawn Starns, Louisiana state director, National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“We would like for it to be known that our organization, which directly impacts the lives of over 1,000 individuals through a variety of services and employment circumstances in the human services and health care field, would like to ask that full consideration be given on your behalf to put a mask mandate in place. It is imperative for the life and safety of the people we directly service as well as the community at large,” said Collis Temple, Jr., executive director, Harmony Center.

“Louisiana retailers have worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop protocols for keeping employees and customers safe, and we are committed to continuing our role as an essential partner in the effort to keep our communities safe and our businesses open. Louisiana continues to experience rising cases and hospitalizations from a fourth surge of COVID-19, which is being spurred by the dangerous Delta variant. Everyone must take steps to protect themselves and their families during this fourth surge. We urge everyone to mask while shopping in our stores and to practice social distancing. These basic community mitigation measures are important tools that will allow retailers and other critical segments of the economy to remain open and safely serve the public,” said Jessica Elliott, executive director, Louisiana Retailers Association.

“Products made by Louisiana’s chemical manufacturing sector continue to play a pivotal role in keeping Louisianians safe during this pandemic. Cleaning products, disinfectants, PPE and other products made here in Louisiana, by Louisianians, have been necessary for slowing the spread of this virus. But without our employees, none of this would be possible. Their health and safety during these times is paramount, and all decisions made are with their best interests in mind. Our industry will continue to work with local and state leaders to help shape policies that prioritize health and safety without limiting Louisianians access to businesses and essential products,” said Greg Bowser, president and chief executive officer, Louisiana Chemical Association.

Here is a link to the new mask mandate proclamation.

Here is a link to the letters of support for Gov. Edwards’ newly reinstated mask mandate from other major industries throughout Louisiana.

In addition to sending letters of support, several leaders joined Gov. Edwards for his announcement today at GOHSEP. They included:

  • Dr. Joseph Kanter—state health officer, Louisiana Department of Health
  • Dr. Mark Kline—physician-in-chief and chief academic officer, Children’s Hospital New Orleans
  • Dr. Phyllis Mason—chief medical officer, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center
  • Dr. Sandra Kemmerly—medical director of hospital quality, Ochsner Health
  • Dr. Catherine O’Neal—chief medical officer, Our Lady of the Lake
  • Michele Sutton—president and chief executive officer, North Oaks Health System
  • Stan Harris—president and chief executive officer, Louisiana Restaurant Association
  • Tyler Gray—president and general counsel, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association