By Baptist Message staff
BATON ROUGE, La. (LBM) – Gov. John Bel Edwards announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that Louisiana will move back to a modified version of Phase 2 of reopening the state on Wednesday.
Citing a continued increase in novel coronavirus related cases and hospitalizations, Edwards said the decision was necessary to keep the state from continuing to move in the wrong direction and for schools to remain open. The state saw 3,266 new cases and 39 deaths on Tuesday, and had 1,052 COVID-19 hospitalizations, an increase from fewer than 600 patients reported on Nov. 1.
Under the order that expires Dec. 23, attendance at churches will continue to be limited to 75 percent of a worship center’s seating capacity and businesses including restaurants, gyms and non-essential retailers will be limited to 50 percent capacity. A statewide mask mandate also remains in place for anyone eight years or older or with a major health condition.
Social gatherings will be limited to 25 percent capacity and no more than 75 people indoors and 150 outdoors when physical distancing is not possible, bars in parishes with more than 5 percent test positivity must close to indoor consumption and sporting event venues can have up to 25 percent capacity.
He also encouraged all employers to maximize the use of telework where possible.
Edwards asked Louisianans to continue wearing masks and observing proper social distancing measures.
“I encourage everybody to do your part,” Edwards said. “You’ve done it before. We can do it again. And I’m not asking you to do this forever. There is a finite amount of time. I can’t tell you exactly when but in several months I believe we are going to be able to start to put this in our rear view mirror. But it is not today. In fact, not only is this not in our rear view mirror, it is right in our grill. And it is a nasty, nasty situation here in Louisiana like it is around the country.
“So we don’t have a moment to waste,” he continued. “Everybody has to do their part. And if we do, and I’m sure that we will, then we will get through this. I have every confidence in the people of Louisiana. They have always inspired me by their goodness, their kindness, their generosity and I believe that they will do it again.
“So let’s work together,” he said. “Let’s save lives.”
Edwards said even though a vaccine may be on the horizon, Louisianians must adhere to measures in the order.
“I have every confidence that when the FDA issues that emergency use authorization for a particular vaccine, that that vaccine will be safe and it will be effective,” he said. “And I hope that my fellow Louisianians will embrace the vaccine because a vaccine saves zero lives. Vaccination can save a lot of lives. But the vaccination requires the vaccine and it requires an individual to receive that vaccine through an injection, in fact two injections.”
Edwards shared that despite the difficulties Louisianans have endured, they have much to be thankful for this year. He encouraged families to find creative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving safely.
“Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy,” he said. “And I would encourage people to find ways to have a Thanksgiving celebration that is safe so that we can be thankful for the blessings that we have. But we have to be mindful of this pandemic. And there are dangers lurking if we insist on having celebrations around Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year the way that we have done them in the past. I just cannot more strongly encourage people to be patient. I know you’re tired of this. But be patient and love your loved ones by making sure that you don’t expose them to unnecessary risks. Be close to them through the phone and through Facetime and other ways. And then let’s look forward to when we can get back together without restrictions and mitigation measures and we’re all going to have good stories to tell.”