Louisiana casino gamers need to stay masked until at least Oct. 27.
On Sept. 28, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his decision to extend the state’s mask mandate while the country keeps grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensions can only be ordered for a month at a time.
The Louisiana mandate includes casinos, as well as restaurants, schools, retail stores and other public indoor spaces. Casinos are posting masking reminders on their websites.
Louisiana casinos taking measures against COVID-19
Harrah’s New Orleans, the state’s only land-based casino, has gone a step further, posting the following:
“The City of New Orleans requires proof of vaccination or a negative PCR [virus presence detection] test within 72 hours to enter indoor establishments, including Harrah’s Casino. In addition, masks are required to be worn at all times.”
Not to worry if you forget your mask at home. Some Louisiana casinos, like Coushatta Casino Resort and Harrah’s, are furnishing complimentary masks to guests who need them.
COVID surges again while Louisiana vaccinations still lag
Edwards rescinded the mask mandate at the end of April but reinstated it in early August. He stated at that time that it had “never been more clear that we are in an unchecked COVID surge.”
As of Oct. 5, 45.68% of Louisianans were fully vaccinated, with 51.90% having received one dose, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). West Feliciana led the state with 56.68% vaccinated, with Orleans Parish trailing it by .01%.
This summer, Louisiana ran the “Shot at a Million” lottery, which allowed vaccine recipients a chance to win big money and scholarships. That and other efforts at encouragement may have contributed to a state vaccination rate increase of more than 10%. But CDC data on Oct. 5 still ranked Louisiana low the sixth-least vaccinated state.
On the brighter side, Louisiana has fallen to one of the lowest per-capita COVID rates in the US, per the CDC.
Not all support Louisiana governor’s mask mandate
Unsurprisingly, some state GOP members want to revive their petition drive to declare an end to the public health emergency and remove the mask mandate for public school students. They cited concern about children’s “physical and mental health” in a letter to House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) and requested a meeting with state health officials.
They took this action despite the most recent — and deadliest —surge that was “disproportionately fueled by transmission among minors,” according to The Advocate, saw an increase in severe COVID-related pregnancy cases, and caused the deaths of nine children.
This continues an ongoing, sometimes legal, clash between the GOP and the governor’s decisions throughout the pandemic. So far, the governor has prevailed.
“We’re in a public health emergency,” Edwards has said. “What good is it to pretend that we’re not?”