A mask mandate has been reinstated in Louisiana as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the state. People ages five and older are once again required to wear masks in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status.
"We're the worst in the country in terms of this COVID surge and that is because of the Delta variant, which is a game changer; and the fact that quite frankly not enough people have been vaccinated here in Louisiana," said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
Louisiana ranks 47th among states in terms of vaccination rate. More than 30,000 people in the state tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week. On Thursday alone, health officials reported close to 2,400 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, with 90% of them found to be unvaccinated. Kids make up almost 20% of new COVID cases in hospitals.
Fil-Am nurse Joyce Martinez, who is a breastfeeding consultant at a baptist hospital, says COVID-19 has been impacting the maternity unit. "We are seeing a surge of COVID patients, even pregnant and birthing moms in the hospital," asserts Martinez.
Martinez says it is still safe for the baby to take breast milk even if the mother tests positive for COVID-19 as long as safety measures are observed. "Pinopromote talaga namin na mag-breastfeed yung COVID positive moms sa mga baby so non-separation unless critical yung birthing mom. A lot of studies are showing na hindi natratransmit yung COVID virus through breast milk. In fact, kung ang nanay ay vaccinated, you are able to transfer antibodies actually through breast milk (We actually promote breastfeeding even among COVID positive moms so there's non separation unless the birthing mom is in critical condition. A lot of studies are showing that COVID is not transmitted through breast milk. In fact, when the mother is vaccinated, she is actually able to transfer antibodies through breast milk)."
Martinez adds, "Ang ating theme for World Breastfeeding Week ay 'Shared Responsibility and Surviving' -- surviving health from decades ago and ngayon, surviving COVID (Our theme for World Breastfeeding Week is ‘Shared Responsibility and Surviving’ -- surviving health from decades ago and now, COVID)."
Meanwhile, schools in Louisiana will comply with the statewide mask mandate to ensure the safety of students while on campus, especially when more indoor spaces are used due to social distancing.
"Lahat ng paraan ginawa nila. Yung mga dating lugar na hindi ginagamit para sa pagtuturo gaya ng mga auditorium, biglang nagiging classroom sila (They’re finding ways. Places that weren’t traditionally used for teaching like auditoriums are turned into classrooms)," says Dr. Jose Bautista, professor at Xavier University.
The mask mandate will stay in place until September 1st. It may be extended if necessary.