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Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome talks about the need to be safe and wear a mask with the reopening of City Hall. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome talks to different departments welcoming City-Parish employees back to work in advance of city hall's planned Wednesday May 20th reopening. The meetings took place at City Hall which is located at 222 St Louis Street on Monday May 18, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. Each returning employee will be given a face covering. Departments have been supplied with cleaning supplies to regularly sanitize frequently touched surfaces. Buildings have also been “fogged” with disinfectant. Dozens of Plexiglas “sneeze” guards have been installed at public offices in our buildings to prevent the transfer of droplets. Anyone entering a city-parish building will have to wear a face covering and undergo a COVID-19 screening.

Face coverings will now be required in East Baton Rouge Parish businesses, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced Wednesday.

She said the masks will be mandatory starting Friday.

"My message is very simple: Save a life, save our economy and wear a face covering," Broome said.

Louisiana saw the largest single-day increase in reported coronavirus cases in nearly three months on Wednesday. The state reported 2,083 additional cases statewide.

East Baton Rouge was the second-highest parish for additional coronavirus cases on Wednesday. There were 227 more cases diagnosed in East Baton Rouge Wednesday.

Broome said the case spike accounts for the third-highest increase since the pandemic began in March. The first Louisiana case was announced on March 9.

She said the decision is "rooted in the common-sense measures of our medical community."

"We cannot afford to return to a stay at home order," Broome said.

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People caught without a mask could face a misdemeanor summons, Broome said. When asked when the mandate could end, she said it would be when she sees a positive change in the coronavirus case growth.

Broome also said in her press conference that closing bars is "not off the table."

Gov. John Bel Edwards will address Louisiana at a public press conference at 2:30 p.m.

Watch the full press conference here.

As the economy has begun to re-open from stay-at-home orders aimed at halting the spread of the virus, there has been a resurgence of coronavirus cases that has alarmed local, state and national health officials. 

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the percentage of coronavirus tests that came back positive rose from 2.5% to 10.3% between the week ending June 21 and the one ending Sunday, an Advocate analysis of state data shows. Experts say high percentages of positive tests suggest increased spread of the virus.

Health officials have said the latest wave of cases is largely driven by increases among young adults, which is different than the first wave. 

In Baton Rouge, there has been a particular focus on bars and restaurants, many of which have closed temporarily as staff report coronavirus symptoms. The state Department of Health last month declared an outbreak in bars in the Tigerland area near LSU's campus, urging those who visited those bars to self-quarantine. 


Email Emma Discher at EDischer@TheAdvocate.com or follow her on Twitter, @EmmaDischer.