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Dr. Catherine S. O'Neal, infectious disease specialist with Our Lady of the Lake, listens as Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference, Saturday, July 11, 2020, at GOHSEP in Baton Rouge, La. Edwards announced that beginning Monday at 12:01 am, bars would be closed to on-premises consumption and there would be a statewide mask mandate across Louisiana.

The news in the war on coronavirus has been mostly bad this month, with infections and hospitalizations increasing alarmingly.

So it was probably inevitable that Gov. John Bel Edwards would join other governors in imposing a statewide mask order.

The order comes as infections are growing across the Sunbelt, and the idea is hardly radical. The Republican governor of Texas, initially a skeptic, is now requiring essentially the same thing.

And Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder of Gonzales played a constructive role by sending a message to GOP members of the Legislature warning them of dire consequences if they move forward with a petition to end the restrictions, including the potential loss of federal aid.

The coronavirus fight seemed to be going well a month ago, as infections and hospitalizations declined.

But now hospitalizations have climbed back to the highest level since mid-May, and new infections are topping 2,000 on some days.

As the state lifted restrictions, people seemed to stop taking the threat seriously.

That’s still a problem.

With infections increasing alarmingly in Baton Rouge, a 12-day "Geaux Get Tested" initiative began last week aiming to screen about 60,000 people in an effort to get a more accurate picture of the disease's spread, especially among those who aren't displaying symptoms.

That would involve testing 5,000 people a day, but only about a quarter of that number have been showing up.

Sunday, you could drive right into the parking lot at Alex Box Stadium, one of the test sites, and get a test without a wait. That won't last forever, but this week it's a good thing to make sure that you're not unwittingly spreading the virus, as many don't show symptoms.

In the spring, New Orleans was the area of concern, but now the plague has spread statewide. Lake Charles, Lafayette and Baton Rouge are now the hot spots, so much so that Vice President Mike Pence is coming here this week.

Wearing a mark is unpleasant, but Louisianians have always supported our neighbors through hurricanes and floods, so this is a small inconvenience by comparison.

We understand concerns from conservatives that there needs to be a limit on government authority, even in a crisis.

But even the most ardent libertarian would have to concur that mask-wearing is a small price to pay to stifle the spread of infection and death. Especially if mask-wearing helps Louisiana remove restrictions that are hurting our businesses, lets children go back to school and puts our football teams back on the field.

Our Views: It's time for John Bel Edwards to mandate Louisianans wear masks in public