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Louisiana governor announces mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Saturday announced a statewide mask mandate and new restrictions for bars amid the surging coronavirus pandemic. 

The mandate, which will begin on Monday, requires all people over the age of 8 years old wear a mask in public throughout the state unless they have a medical condition prohibiting them from wearing a face covering.

The mandate applies to indoor and outdoor public spaces.

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Individual parishes in the state will be able to opt out of the mandate if they document fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people during a 2-week period. Only three parishes in the state met the requirement as of Saturday.

Edwards addressed the politicization of masks in parts of the country, telling reporters on Saturday, "There has been a political dynamic that has emerged around the whole issue of masks.”

"That doesn't make any sense to me,” Edwards said.

"We know that face masks work. It's as simple as that," he added. "It is the necessary thing to do. It is the right thing to do under the circumstances. That is why we're going to do it. We are not going to let this virus win....I don't like it, but at the end of the day I know it's the right thing to do."

Edwards also announced that bars in Louisiana, including those that sell food, will close unless they can offer drinks to-go or via delivery to customers.

The governor confirmed that indoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people. The limitation will not apply to essential businesses in the state, including churches and faith-based organizations, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The move to require masks comes as COVID-19 cases in Louisiana have spiked in recent days.

State health officials reported 2,167 COVID-19 cases on Saturday.The number is the third-largest daily increase since the outbreak began in March, CBS affiliate 4WWL reported. The second-highest daily increase was reported Friday.