Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisiana to meet with Gov. John Bel Edwards and LSU officials on Tuesday afternoon.
They held a roundtable discussion inside Tiger Stadium to talk through Louisiana’s COVID-19 responses as well as the plan for school reopenings and athletics.
“Today we had a very clear focus on education,” Pence said. “President Trump has made it clear that to open up America we must open up schools.”
Pence reassured Louisiana residents that the Trump administration will continue to support the efforts Louisiana is making.
Louisiana surpassed 80,000 cases on Tuesday and is among the fastest per-capita growth rates in the country. A recent spike in cases led to Edwards closing bars and issuing a state-wide mask mandate.
“We were incredibly inspired by Louisiana innovation with testing from early on,” Pence said.
Edwards wants residents to work together by wearing their mask, washing their hands and social distancing.
“We don’t want to go back to Phase 1 or Phase 0, but to do that we have to wear masks and we have to social distance,” Edwards said.
Both Pence and Edwards are ready to allow students of all grades to return to school. Colleges will be a mix of online and in person classes to limit the amount of contact.
“If you have a Tuesday, Thursday class you may be in class Tuesday but not Thursday.” Edwards said.
Residents are worried about young students returning to school since children may not be able to keep their masks on. However, officials agree returning to school is the best decision.
“If we use our heads, we can open our schools safely,” Sen. John Kennedy said. “Not opening our schools will do our children so much more harm than the coronavirus ever can.”
Like many other LSU fans, Pence agreed he would love to see football still happen. Tests are being conducted regularly to ensure the safety of staff and athletes.
“As Coach O and I discussed today, I think it's important not just for the student athletes, not just for schools like LSU, but it's important for America,” Pence said. “We are prepared to work with the athletic director with universities around the country to make sure they have the support, the resources and the guidance to move forward.
According to Dr. Deborah Brix, Louisiana residents need to understand that coronavirus is no longer just strongly concentrated in New Orleans.
Pence expressed support for Edwards, and for the residents of Louisiana.
“To every member of Louisiana, we want to make sure you know we are with you, and we are going to stay with you every step of the way,” Pence said.