Louisiana governor says he's fasting over COVID-19

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Monday began a three-day period of fasting during lunch time with his wife in honor of the state's health care workers.

Taking to Twitter, Edwards urged other Louisianans to join him and his wife in fasting and prayer.

"Join me and @FirstLadyOfLA in praying & fasting during lunch time August 9-11 for our health care workers & all those affected by COVID-19," Edwards wrote. "In addition to prayer, I urge all Louisianans to protect their neighbors & themselves by getting their vaccines & wearing masks."

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Edwards announced his intentions of fasting last week in a statement.

“Yesterday, I asked hundreds of ministers and pastors throughout Louisiana to join me during the lunch hour next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in praying and fasting for our state, and I am extending this invitation to anyone and everyone who is so inclined, no matter their religious beliefs," Edwards said. "I believe very strongly in the power of prayer, and there are thousands of people right now in Louisiana who need to be lifted up in prayer. So I hope you will join your prayers to mine for healing and protection."

Edwards said he would be praying for those sick with COVID-19 as well as health care workers treating the virus. He said he would also be praying for schools to be able to reopen safely this year.

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Last week, Edwards announced that he would temporarily be reinstating Louisiana's statewide mask mandate in light of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The mask mandate is in effect for all people ages 5 and over in indoor spaces. The mandate is set to expire on Sept. 1, though it may be extended depending on the circumstances.

Unlike some other Democratic governors, Edwards has not issued a vaccine mandate for public workers or those in high-risk sectors, though he has signaled support for other entities like businesses and schools who have.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, more than 590,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the state, with more than 11,000 deaths. The department's data states that those who are not fully vaccinated account for 91 percent of coronavirus hospitalizations at the moment.

The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that around 56 percent of Louisiana's adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.