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State urges people to 'mask up' as virus numbers increase

BATON ROUGE - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to release new guidance when it comes to wearing a mask. It still recommends wearing a cloth face covering, because the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity, even from people who aren't showing symptoms.

Health officials say wearing a mask is a key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. During his afternoon news conference and while wearing his new Father's Day gift - a mask - Governor John Bel Edwards reminded Louisiana residents about the guidance to slow the spread.

"We need to do a better job of wearing masks when we're not in our home," he said. "I would ask young people, old people, people in the middle, everybody, to wear your mask."

The governor said there's still concern that many people aren't adhering to the guidelines, which include masking up, staying six feet apart, and washing your hands often.

"There have been new community-spread cases that can be traced back to bars including popular areas like Tigerland near LSU, as well as high school graduations in New Orleans and elsewhere," Edwards said.

While some states and countries have made masks a requirement, masks remain a strong suggestion in Louisiana. Although employees who have contact with the public are required to wear face masks or face coverings. Businesses are encouraged to require their customers to wear masks.

One of the major concerns and reasons for the stay-at-home order was to slow the spread and keep hospital numbers low. The hospital numbers have been slowly going down, but Monday, saw the largest recent increase. Our Lady of the Lake Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine O'Neal says wearing a mask isn't about you, it's about others with whom you come in contact.

"Most people are healthy people, who are not going to have a lot of symptoms, so we're going to continue to go to work and go to parties and baby showers and they may be ill,"  O'Neal said. "Wearing that mask protects everybody else around you from the possibility that you could be spreading COVID-19."

While many people have adapted to taking a mask with them when they leave the house, others seem to be against the state and CDC guidelines. O'Neal says she hopes people who don't believe in wearing a mask will change their minds.

"You wear a mask to protect the shoppers nearby you, the people who you're hanging out with, and - most importantly - the people who you're hanging out with, you're protecting their parents and their grandparents," she said.

The CDC says it's planning to release an update on its recommendation regarding face masks.

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