Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Catholic Democrat, has encouraged residents in the state to follow his lead and participate in three days of fasting and prayer for those affected by COVID-19.
At a press conference updating Louisianans about the coronavirus on Thursday, Edwards announced his intention to engage in three days of fasting and prayer, beginning on Monday and concluding on Wednesday. The governor said he “received a request” to participate in this form of “spiritual diet and exercise” during a “conference call with hundreds of pastors across the state of Louisiana.”
Edwards urged his fellow Louisianans to “please join me and the first lady and faith leaders across Louisiana, regardless of your denomination or your religion, and we would ask that you join us in prayerful reflection and fasting.”
“We’ll be doing lunch fasting for those three days … and certainly praying as well, praying for the people of Louisiana, praying for those who are sick, praying for those who care for those … who are sick, and certainly praying for the families of those who have passed on,” he said.
Edwards had previously called on Louisianans to join him in a day of fasting and prayer in late March, when the coronavirus pandemic first began to grip the United States, the Catholic News Agency reported. His latest call for fasting and prayer comes as the state has recorded more than 13,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
With a population of more than 4.6 million, some 90,000 Louisianans have tested positive for the coronavirus and 3,543 have reportedly died of complications from the virus. The state has the 12th highest number of coronavirus cases among all 50 states and ranks No. 11 in the number of coronavirus deaths, according to The New York Times.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a statement in support of Edwards “inviting us to prayer and fasting.”
“We know that God hears our prayers, and we must cooperate with him in doing our part to make certain that we do not spread the virus,” Aymond said.
In addition to religious leaders, political figures on both sides of the aisle have reacted favorably to Edwards’ call for fasting and prayer. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, offered Edwards a “sincere salute” on Twitter, accompanied by the hashtags "gratitude” and “Respect.”
Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, a Democrat, tweeted out a photo of Edwards’ proclamation calling for three days of fasting and prayer, accompanied by the caption “Louisiana in Prayer and Fasting 3 Day!!!”
Edwards is not the only political figure calling for three days of prayer and fasting in an effort to combat coronavirus. BBC News Africa reported last week that Lazarus Chakwera, the newly elected president of Malawi, has called on his citizens to join him for three days of prayer and fasting.