No, New Orleans Didn’t Put A “Mask Mandate” In Place
There were a lot of headlines that came out of New Orleans yesterday that painted a particular picture. The words "mask mandate" have been thrown around a bit, but that's not what was issued yesterday.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has consistently been more aggressive than Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for the last 12 months when it comes to COVID-19 response. She has consistently kept her city one step behind during the Governor's COVID reopening, with reasons that have been questioned along the way.
So it was expected by many that New Orleans would be moving to a "mask mandate" when Mayor Cantrell called a press conference for yesterday. But that's not what they got, even if reports of the changes in New Orleans are making it seem that way.
So what's the difference? It comes down to the seriousness. This is essentially the difference between a Thunderstorm Watch and a Thunderstorm Warning.
This "mask advisory" is for indoor businesses/events/gatherings, but doesn't actually require mask use, it just suggests it. There are no penalties for businesses, employees, or individuals who choose not to wear a mask.
So what can we take away from this? A couple of things.
Yes, there are an increasing number of COVID cases in the state, and that makes for sensational headlines for news companies. Even though the World Health Organization advises against monitoring these case numbers. But as you will find out if you dig into these numbers in Louisiana, you'll see that this is almost an entirely unvaccinated issue.
The individuals who are being hospitalized, or dying, of COVID-19 in Louisiana are essentially all unvaccinated. Meaning these individuals all had a choice over the last 6 months to get a COVID-19 vaccine or not.
Right now, Louisiana has a simple issue in front of them: Get a COVID-19 vaccine and be completely fine, or choose not to get one and risk COVID hospitalization.
There's no sense in forcing vaccinated, or recovered, individuals to wear masks. Because they don't face these serious COVID issues. So when cities, like New Orleans, or state's like Louisiana, start to consider what they should do right now with COVID, there's really only one answer. Get people vaccinated.
Mitigation and restrictions are not the answers for the situation that Louisiana has found themselves in. Vaccination is the only path out.