Lafayette City Council Kills Mask Ordinance
LAFAYETTE--A mask mandate proposed by city councilman Glenn Lazard is dead.
The city council voted 3-2 to kill that ordinance, which would have required people to wear masks in public facilities. Lazard and Pat Lewis voted for the ordinance. Andy Naquin, Liz Webb Hebert, and Nanette Cook voted against it.
According to council clerk Veronica Williams, the council office received more than 3,059 phone calls about the mask ordinance. Of those calls, 2,060 were against the ordinance; 999 were in support.
The majority of the speakers at the council meeting supported the ordinance. Among those speakers was Dr. Ernest Kinchen. He said it's necessary to protect the lives and the health of the people who not only live in the city, but also those who visit the city.
"It is not a White-or-Black, red-or-blue, or conservative-or-liberal issue," Dr. Kinchen said. "It's a life or death issue." Kinchen continued by saying wearing masks--along with receiving the vaccine, washing hands, and other mitigation measures--is proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. "Other than the vaccine, the only way we can crush this deadly virus is to wear a mask," Kinchen said.
Kinchen noted the recent deaths of U. S. Representatives Luke Letlow and Ron Wright. He also said the ordinance is not an infringement on anyone's rights, noting that legislatures have mandated the wearing of seat belts and motorcycle helmets to protect the public safety.
Dr. Britni Hebert also voiced support for the ordinance, saying that it would save lives.
"Brazil thought they had herd immunity. They opened back up, and they are being crushed by another surge they never expected," Dr. Hebert said. "When will we learn from the people around us? How many surges will we fail to prevent and how many lives will be lost unnecessarily?"
Others spoke out against the ordinance, including Meg Mourain. She said the role of government is to protect people's liberties, not to make sure that people "eat their vegetables."
"Wearing a mask should be a choice, not a mandate," Mourain told the council.
Daniel Moore also spoke against the ordinance. He said he was kicked out of city hall earlier in the day Tuesday because he wasn't wearing a mask.
"I can't wear a mask," Moore said, citing a lung issue. "Am I going to be fined every time I go to a business?"
Before the vote, Lazard acknowledged the differing positions on the mask ordinance, but he urged everyone to consider the sources from which they gather their information on the topic of masks and the spread of COVID-19.
"If you search far enough, you can find a study that agrees with your position. Not everybody is an expert. There are people that are specially trained in this field--infectious diseases. We heard the different opinions from everyone. This doctor said this. This doctor said that. But what kind of experience do they have? That's something to think about when we get our information." Lazard added that he would follow the recommendations of the chief medical officers of Lafayette General and Our Lady of Lourdes medical centers, Dr. Amanda Logue and Dr. Henry Kaufmann, both of whom recommend masks to prevent the spread.
In other council business: The city and parish councils jointly approved an emergency ordinance creating a partnership between LCG, SMILE Community Action Agency, and Catholic Charities to dole out nearly $7.3 million in funds from the Treasury Department for rental assistance in Lafayette Parish. The councils also approved an identical introductory ordinance that will be considered for final adoption on February 23.