Mayor-President Josh Guillory has failed in his responsibility to enforce state mask-wearing and crowd-size mandates, refusing to launch robust local enforcement efforts and deflecting complaints to the State Fire Marshall’s Office in Baton Rouge. It’s no surprise that under his so-called leadership, Lafayette is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases resulting in increased hospitalizations and deaths.

Guillory points an accusatory finger at our beleaguered medical workers, saying, “We need some really, really strong assurances from the medical community that you guys have changed your behaviors and have done something to help mitigate this, because we can’t shut our economy down.”

There is so much wrong with this tactic that I’m almost left speechless — but not quite.

The first issue I want to point out is Guillory’s refusal to accept responsibility for protecting us by enforcing state mask and crowd-size rules. He’s apparently playing into the political fiction that the rules trample on our rights in some way that other legal requirements, such as wearing seat belts and motorcycle helmets, do not. It is clearly and absolutely Guillory’s job to enjoin any state mandate concerning public health, and in that he has failed.

Second is that the mayor-president is trying to deflect attention from his inaction by pinning the increase in COVID-19 cases on someone else. This seems a pitiable tactic, almost comical because it’s so obvious that the two things known to slow the rise in coronavirus cases are the two things Guillory himself refuses to do: require masks and limit indoor crowds.

Third is the absolutely shameful tactic of accusing Lafayette’s hard-working and endangered medical community of being responsible for the increase in cases, and calling on them to change their behaviors.

What actions does Guillory think they have engaged in that increased illness here? What behaviors would he have them change? I’m aware of the heroic and selfless care our health care workers have given to COVID patients at our hospitals, at great risk to their own health and that of their families and without proper protective equipment. Where does Guillory see fault in their actions?

Those of us who have been wearing masks and distancing ourselves from others to protect ourselves and our community from another spike are horrified at Guillory’s handling of this threat. While responsible mayors are bearing down on proven safety measures, ours is playing games. Lafayette deserves better.

LAYNE ST. JULIEN

community advocate

Lafayette