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The Best Louisiana Memes About Its Neighbors Recklessly Reopening, Because SOS

Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi are recklessly reopening their states and lifting mask mandates, against the advice of concerned public health officials.

Louisianans are not thrilled about being stuck between two states that are reopening against the advice of public health officials. | Twitter/@uglyredheadwith
Louisianans are not thrilled about being stuck between two states that are reopening against the advice of public health officials. | Twitter/@uglyredheadwith

Louisianans who just lived through their first-ever pandemic-canceled Mardi Gras had to take in the unwelcome news Tuesday that their neighboring states were charting a different path, and reopening almost immediately.

On March 2, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) tweeted — as his state reels from the double crisis of COVID-19 and a winter storm emergency — “I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate.” He made the decision in direct contradiction to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) followed, announcing that he was lifting all mask mandates and reopening businesses. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday “now is not the time” to ease restrictions, adding: “Please hear me clearly. At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.” But Abbott announced that his administration will reverse restrictions, effective next week, while himself indoors at a Mexican restaurant where many onlookers could be seen without masks. COVID-19 cases in the state have declined from their peak of 27,000+ per day in January 2021, but remain at 7,000-10,000 new daily cases in recent weeks, per the Google COVID-19 data tracker; Texas also has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates.

Louisiana has also seen a steady decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks, with numbers much lower than Texas, and the Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is keeping the statewide mask mandate in place. Residents were not thrilled to hear that they would soon be surrounded by maskless, fully reopened states, and since it’s 2021, many expressed their displeasure via memes.

While memes can be an effective, if temporary, coping mechanism, others underscored the seriousness of such state decisions. One tweeted: “If anyone needs proof of what one case of covid from Texas can do, that’s likely how the super spreader even[t] [sic] that was Mardi Gras 2020 started, and led to fifty thousand cases in Louisiana,” linking to a recent study published on NOLA.com. 

Dr. Fauci criticized states for starting to relax their restrictions, saying on Feb. 28, “Look at what history has taught us ... If we do this and start coming up, then we’re going to go right back to the road of rebounding.” Indeed, after Abbott became one of the first governors to lift restrictions last spring, Texas saw a surge in cases by summer

Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued a public letter asking Gov. Abbott to extend the mask mandate and other restrictions, saying the state has “come a long way in this struggle and need[s] to make sure we see it through to the successful conclusion.”

President Biden was asked about it Wednesday, and said, “I think it’s a big mistake … We are on the cusp of fundamentally being able to change the nature of this disease [with vaccinations] … The last thing you need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, ‘Everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.’ It still matters.”

While Louisiana is keeping the mask mandate, Gov. Edwards announced Tuesday the easing of some restrictions effective immediately, including the reopening of bars indoors and allowing increased capacity for restaurants and churches. Local mayors and parish leaders are allowed to put stricter restrictions in place.

“We’re currently moving in the right direction and have been for several weeks now, and certainly, we’re all gratified by that,” the Democratic governor said, according to the AP. “We know, however, we still have a lot of work to do before we get out of this pandemic.”

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