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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana’s new indoor mask mandate is now in effect.

Governor John Bel Edwards issued the mandate on Monday in hopes of slowing the fourth COVID-19 surge.

Edwards said this mask mandate applies to school campuses, this includes K-12 campuses and college campuses.

“It’s vitally important that we protect our children, especially the ones that are too young to get vaccinated,” said Edwards.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported Tuesday that 2,112 largely unvaccinated people are in hospital beds struggling with the coronavirus illness. The state’s previous peak was 2,069 patients in early January.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, Orleans and West Feliciana Parish, are the only two parishes to have surpassed the 50 percent vaccination threshold.

Edwards, along with health leaders across the state, continued to ask those that remain unvaccinated, to get the vaccine.

Dr. Phyllis Mason, Chief Medical Officer of Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, explained the overwhelm hospital staff are experiencing now.

“If you’re not going to trust the science, respect the virus and wear a mask,” said Dr. Mason.

Dr. Catherine O’Neal from Our Lady of the Lake described the reality she’s seeing as the state entered the “darkest days of this pandemic.” She said mask-wearing will help mitigate the spread as more people get vaccinated.

Louisiana is the leading nation in the number of new COVID cases per capita and remains one of the bottom five states in administering vaccinations.