A new strain of the novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading from Europe to the US.
According to Business Insider, a new study says the virus is more infectious than its predecessor but is not making people any sicker than before.
According to Business Insider, researchers call the new strain G614 and the previous strain D614.
One researcher says the new mutation is “now the dominant form infecting people.”
The US has reported a total of 2,795,437 cases of the disease. 129,438 people have died of it since it gained a foothold within the country in January.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins issued an executive order mandating face covering or masks for anyone entering a business.
Because the increases are linked to community spread, Perkins said it was time for him to act.
Perkins said he consulted with local business owners and community leaders before issuing the order during a Monday afternoon press conference, adding the increase in the number of new cases is not due to more testing.
“Since Memorial Day, we’ve seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in our community and to dispel a few myths that you might hear in the media, this is not due to more testing in our area,” Perkins said. We’ve seen an alarming rise in hospitalizations in our area. On June 12, we achieved a two-month low at 129 COVID positive hospitalizations but today, just 25 days later, we’re at 221.”
Perkins said there have been 11 deaths since June 30.
“That breaks my heart,” Perkins added. “That’s almost two deaths a day in our community.
Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins (Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
The order, which goes into effect 5 p.m. July 8, also requires business owners to post signage at entrances clearly indicating the face-covering requirement. The order is effective until 11:59 p.m., Aug. 8.
A social media post from Perkins following the press conference, states “To make things easier for local businesses, we created signage that can be posted at entrances. This saves businesses time and enables Shreveport to show our unity. Please share this post with anyone you know who owns or operates a business. PDFs will be uploaded to the city’s website tomorrow and the link will be shared.”
Perkins said he hopes to be joined by Caddo Parish with a similar order. He also mentioned speaking with Bossier Mayor Lorenz Walker about the mandate.
The order applies to all businesses that interact with the public and to all customers with the exception of those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask or face covering.
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“The Shreveport Police Department will be enforcing this mandate,” Perkins said. “Businesses will be issued documented warnings on their first violation and a maximum fine up to $500 on a second violation. We’re asking citizens to call SPD at 673-7300 to report violations.”
Perkins said there’s also an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases amongst city employees and added that they are taking greater precautions at the city level as well.
Sportran also requires anyone over two years of age, to wear a mask or face covering.
Sportran CEO Dinero Washington issued a statement Monday afternoon.
“We are carefully monitoring the rise of cases of COVID-19 in our region. In efforts to maintain the reopening of the Public Transit system, every passenger will be required to wear face coverings at all bus stops, facilities, and onboard vehicles effective this Wednesday. If we continue to see the number of cases rise in our region, the agency will take additional precautions, including reducing service again.”
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Perkins stressed the order is not about politics.
“We cannot afford to lose any more of our friends, our family, our co-workers, our neighbors,” Perkins said. “Nor can we afford local businesses to shutter and close down as we go backward. If we all wear a mask, we not only protect our health but the health of our economy and the health of our friends, this is scientifically proven. I cannot in good conscience go another day in our city without us taking these strong precautions to protect our health, our public safety, and our city.”
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Dr. Martha Whyte, medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health, Region 7, which encompasses Shreveport, echoed Perkins’ sentiments saying the area numbers are sliding backward and that requiring masks is not a political move.
“As the public health director, every one of the tests comes across my desk,” Whyte said. “Every death has to be reviewed by my office and they have become very personal to us. I take this uptick very seriously. We have gone back to a place where we were in the early Spring, which is not where we want to be. We thought the numbers would take a bit of a respite during the summer but they’re not. So, where are we going to be in the fall?
Whyte reiterated that the mask mandate is a health issue and not a political one.
As of Monday, Caddo Parish had 34 new coronavirus cases according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Caddo increased from 3,706 positive cases on Sunday to 3,740 on Monday.
Caddo Parish has 243 deaths related to the virus.
Perkins is already getting push back with some questioning his authority to enforce the mandate.
In addition to announcing the mask order, Perkins also addressed Shreveport’s crime and gun violence. Perkins called on the community to do their part in helping to stop the violence by saying something if and when they see a family member or friend with a gun or other weapon intending to do harm to someone.
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