Local sheriffs discuss their response to the mask mandate
Parishes deciding on if they will mandate wearing masks following Governor Edward's announcement
ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Local parishes have responded to Governor Edwards’ statewide mask mandate that was announced on July 11.
Grant Parish has decided to opt-out of the mask mandate. Grant Parish was one of three parishes in Louisiana along with West Feliciana and Red River that were given the choice to opt-out of the mandate due to having low numbers. As of July 13, Grant Parish has 133 positive cases with two deaths.
“The governor has provided a guideline for us to follow. If the cumulative two-week incidence for a parish is below 100 cases per 100,000 population, the governor is allowing the parish to opt-out. After consulting with other parish officials, I have decided to opt Grant Parish out of the mask requirement. If the governor changes the guidelines or if our positive test rate changes significantly, we will re-evaluate the decision.”
Although LaSalle Parish was not among the parishes that were given an opt out option, Sheriff Scott Franklin says that LaSalle will not be enforcing the mask mandate either. He made that announcement on Facebook, and although the Department of Health reports that LaSalle Parish has 125 confirmed cases, Franklin says those numbers are wrong.
“Well right now they’re showing us in LaSalle Parish to have over 120 new cases, and that’s simply not true. We have, on our list, people listed two, three, four, five times, because they’ve tested positive and need a negative test to go back to work, so they keep going back and getting retested. It’s showing up positive again, and those numbers are added as new cases when they’re simply not. Nobody can show me anything that says that a mask is doing any good anyway. He issued a mandate, no disrespect to the governor, but he needs to get his people on his COVID team to start looking at real numbers.”
Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft stated that they will also not be enforcing the mask mandate. Vernon Parish, as of July 13, has 288 positive cases of COVID-19 since testing began, but he believes the residents in the parish are smart enough to make the right decisions.
“The people of Vernon Parish have good common sense, and they know what they need to do and don’t need to do. Although our numbers have been going up here, most everyone is trying to practice safe social distancing, hand washing, etc. We just don’t have enough time nor manpower to enforce a mandate.”
In Rapides Parish, Sheriff Mark Wood says they will only get involved in the mask mandate if businesses call them with issues. Wood says otherwise there will be no enforcement and they won’t be arresting people or writing tickets. The total number of positive cases in Rapides Parish is at 2,019 since testing began.
"For those businesses, we will come into play. Businesses that they choose to say you cannot come in, refuse your service because you do not wear any mask, causing some kind of disturbance or something like that. They call us, then that’s when we will get involved. Other than that, we’re not getting involved."
For Avoyelles Parish, Sheriff David Dauzat says that their parish will follow Governor Edward’s mask mandate. Dauzat understands that not everyone may have a mask yet, so they will offer help to anyone who does need one. Currently, in Avoyelles Parish, there’s been 489 total cases of those testing positive for COVID-19.
“Our parish, population-wise with the amount of cases, was asked to participate in wearing masks, so to help out, the few deputies that are patrolling, if they see someone without a mask, and it is the first day the governor changed the situation, we have deputies to just remind people. They have some masks that they will give them. It’s not an expensive mask, but it is one like those you can pick up at emergency preparedness.”
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