Louisiana's Democrat governor calls for prayer and fasting amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Democratic incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards speaks to a crowd at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel on November 16, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Democratic incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards speaks to a crowd at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel on November 16, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. | Getty Images/Matt Sullivan

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for prayer and fasting for those in the state, amid a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state.

On Wednesday, the state reported 6,088 new infections among its more than 4.6 million residents. Since nationwide COVID-19 infections first began being tallied in March 2020, the state has had some 597,000 reported infections and 11,353 deaths attributed to complications from COVID-19. 

In a statement released last week, the Democrat elected official called on Louisianans to forgo eating lunch Monday to Wednesday of this week, while also praying for healthcare workers and those who are COVID-19 positive.

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According to Edwards, he first made this request for fasting from a midday meal before hundreds of clergy last Thursday and then decided to expand the invitation to all Louisianans.

“I believe very strongly in the power of prayer, and there are thousands of people right now in Louisiana who need to be lifted up in prayer. So I hope you will join your prayers to mine for healing and protection,” stated Edwards.

“I will be praying that our sick may fight this illness, that the medical professionals caring for them can remain strong and safe, that our children, teachers and school support staff can safely begin the school year and that our people will do everything they can to help us slow the spread of this terrible virus.”

Days earlier, Edwards announced that he had temporarily reinstated a statewide indoor facemask mandate for anyone aged 5 and older, due to a rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

The state government justified this decision by pointing to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicated that fully vaccinated people who contract the Delta variant of the virus can spread it to others.

“Driven largely by Louisiana’s insufficient vaccination rate and the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, COVID-19 cases in the state have grown exponentially. Louisiana remains No. 1 nationwide for number of new COVID-19 cases per capita,” stated the Office of the Governor on Aug. 2.

“The temporary indoor statewide mask mandate will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and limit suffering and death in Louisiana until we are through this fourth surge,” the state government contended. 

Edwards is not the first governor to issue a call for prayer and fasting in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, for example, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declared Dec. 3 a day of fasting and prayer in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases among state residents at that time.

“Oklahomans have always turned to prayer to guide us through trials and seasons of uncertainty, and I am asking Oklahomans of all faiths and religious backgrounds to join together with me,” said Stitt at the time.

“I believe we must continue to ask God to heal those who are sick, comfort those who are hurting, and provide renewed strength and wisdom to all who are managing the effects of COVID-19.”

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