Virus Outbreak Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards holds up his own mask, taken off while he was speaking, to remind Louisiana residents that a highly effective thing within their power to do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to simply wear a mask, Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at a press conference update on the state's COVID-19 situation at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge, La. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday during a press conference that Louisiana will enter Phase 3 of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, according to The Advocate.

"The data is positive enough that we will be going in to Phase 3 tomorrow," Edwards said.

Phase 2 of reopening was extended to Friday, Sept. 11 on Aug. 26 due to concerns about schools reopening and Hurricane Laura evacuations.

University spokesman Ernie Ballard said he doesn't believe that the state entering Phase 3 will change LSU's COVID-19 guidelines. However it could affect Residential Life policies against having guests in the residence halls.

According to the 2020-2021 Living on Campus Handbook, Phase 3 allows for "limited visitation within Residential Life communities." Residents would be allowed to escort one guest within the community from the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Residential Life has not issued any statement yet about this change potentially going into effect.

Edwards called the decision "probably the hardest I've made thus far" due to Hurricane Laura and Labor Day weekend, which the state has yet to see the full impact of on COVID-19 cases.

Edwards also said more details would be released over the next day as to what Phase 3 will look like, though he did specify that the mask mandate will remain in place.

"Phase 3 is not the lifting of all restrictions," Edwards said. "It's not some announcement that COVID is no longer in Louisiana. It is."

The governor also noted that if the state sees an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, then officials will "act pretty quickly."

Experts warn that this approach could be risky considering the state just suppressed its second wave of infections. They also urge caution as the state has yet to see the full impact of school openings, displacements from Hurricane Laura and Labor Day weekend on COVID-19 trends.

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