by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Gov. John Bel Edwards and state Attorney General Jeff Landry are at odds over the mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions the govern imposed earlier this month. The two have exchanged letters stating their respective opinions.
Landry issued his written opinion that Edwards’ latest executive order was unconstitutional and does not carry the force of law. Additionally, Landry stated the mask mandate, closing bars and restricting crowd sizes is too broad and vague to be consistently applied. And, said Landry, the governor does not have the authority to ask business owners to enforce the mask mandate.
In his later letter, Landry scolded Gov. Edwards for failing to prevent protesters for gathering in large groups citing such action does not comply with the social distancing guidance Edwards has mandated in his executive order.
Landry also said he supported initial restrictions in hopes of ensuring health facilities would not become overwhelmed with patients. “We seemed to have achieved that purpose,“ said Landry in his letter. Landry continued by saying the state needed to work on practical, achievable, and realistic practices that can be performed long-term as the virus is something all have to learn to live with. “You have not been doing so,” said Landry, “and that is regrettable because without realistic and achievable goals we will continue to be reactionary.”
In his response to Landry, Gov. Edwards said the constitution has not changed, however, “the one thing that has changed is the dire spread of the virus in Louisiana.” Additionally, Gov. Edwards commented that every measure he has taken complies with the White House guidance.
Furthermore, said Gov. Edwards, federal public health officials including those with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control agree that closing bars , limiting crowds and requiring masks are the best practices for states with high infection rates. As of July 23, slightly over two percent of Louisiana’s population has tested positive since the state’s first confirmed case on March 9.