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In a rare Saturday afternoon press conference, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that starting first thing Monday morning, face masks will be mandatory across all of Louisiana for everyone 8 years old and older. The only exemptions to this mandate are those to major health concerns. However, the Governor noted that anyone that has health issues that would prevent a person from wearing a mask probably should not be out in public.

Bars without a food permit will be forced to close for anything other than carry out service in communities where that is allowed. These mandates will stay in place until July 24th. This is in response to increasing numbers of COVID-19 across the state. In addition, indoor gatherings such as conferences are now capped at 50 people. This does not include stores or any business that is allowed to operate at 50% under Phase 2 guidelines.

While the governor didn't give complete details about the mandate, the overall message was when we are out in public you must wear a mask. At the grocery store, a restaurant, or at any public gathering, both indoors and outdoors. There are certain exceptions where you can remove your mask for identification purposes or for broadcaster purposes.

This comes just one day after Shreveport's mandatory mask policy was halted by a Caddo District Judge, after local businesses challenged the mandate in court. A temporary restraining order was put into place yesterday, stopping enforcement on the mandate until the case can be heard July 20th. However this new statewide mandate puts that case in question.

The Governor has been focused on "community spread" of COVID-19 over that last few weeks. The numbers reported today say that 95% of the new cases were "community spread", which means the positive tests did not occur in a nursing home or hospital setting, but the person was infected in public.

There have been other trends the Governor has focused on in recent weeks. Including recent daily test results that have shown a positive test rate of over 10%, which has been the benchmark suggested by the US Government. Earlier in the pandemic, Louisiana had reduced that positive test rate drastically, so this increase is noteworthy.

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