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As Gov. John Bel Edwards watches, left, Attorney General Jeff Landry, right, talks about medicines being donated by drug companies to help the fight against the Coronavirus during a press conference at the GOHSEP Monday April 6, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wasn't on the tarmac to greet Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday morning because he has tested positive for coronavirus, according to an email blast to employees of the state Department of Justice.

“Out of an overabundance of caution with the Vice President coming to our state, I was tested for cornavirus,” Landry wrote in the Tuesday morning email. “Though experiencing no symptoms, I tested positive for COVID-19.”

Landry wrote to employees that he is quarantining, taking medications and remains asymptomatic. He contacted staffers with whom he was in contact.

"My work as Attorney General has been uninterrupted and I will continue my efforts to protect Louisiana families, freedom, and the rule of law," Landry wrote.

Landry made no other public comments concerning his condition. But Landry tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he planned to issue Wednesday morning an opinion of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ latest directive closing bars, limiting crowds to no more than 50 people at an inside facility, and requiring every individual wear a face mask in public.

Landry is the third ranking state official known to have tested positive.

State Department of Transportation & Development Secretary Shawn Wilson and Senate President Page Cortez, both of whom live in Lafayette, caught the virus, were treated and moved on afterwards. One of Edwards’ top aides died from COVID-19 and another recently tested positive leading to a number of staffers quarantining and thereby slowing down the governor’s signing or vetoing bills passed by legislators last month. A staffer for state Treasurer John Schroder also tested positive.

Baton Rouge state Rep. Ted James, a Democrat, was hospitalized but recovered. Other legislators came down with flu-like symptoms but didn't test. And state Rep. Reggie Bagala, R-Cut Off, died from COVID-19. His replacement in the Louisiana House, Republican Joseph Orgeron, of Golden Meadow, was elected Saturday.

Landry has been one of the more vocal opponents to various directives aimed at slowing the spread of the highly contagious and often deadly virus whose victims are filling up hospitals.

Last week, Landry urged the state's top school board to avoid mandating the use of face masks by students and teachers when schools reopen next month.

"We believe that mandating students to wear masks creates a situation that may cross the line on liberty, and also may become a tremendous distraction with enforcement," Landry said in his July 9 letter to Education Superintendent Cade Brumley.

Landry wrote he is concerned that requiring masks would turn teachers and school administrators into "mask-enforcement police rather than educators."

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a special meeting Tuesday to approve emergency, minimum health standards for classrooms.

On June 5, Landry opined in a letter to State Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning Jr., that the Phase 2 ban on live music at clubs and other small venues could violate the state Constitution. The state fire marshal’s guidance initially said indoor live entertainment was not authorized, with exceptions for disc jockeys and music played on a speaker system. The agency was charged with enforcing the reopening guidelines. Landry, who lives in the Lafayette suburb of Broussard, wrote the letter at the request of Lafayette Mayor President Josh Guillory.

Since then, Acadiana has seen a spike in positive coronavirus tests.


Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.