Louisiana has the country’s highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita and one of the lowest vaccination rates right now. And the situation for hospitals and health care workers has never been worse.
State Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is doing his part to keep it that way.
On Monday, as the state’s coronavirus death toll topped 11,000, Landry sent an email to state Department of Justice employees informing them how to avoid complying with school mask mandates for children. He also advised how to circumvent K-12 vaccine requirements, though the state doesn’t have any.
“Louisiana law offers broad and robust protections for students’ and parents’ religious and philosophical objections to certain state public health policies,” Landry wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Louisiana Illuminator. “I support your religious liberties and right to conscientiously object.”
Landry attached two form letters that parents could use to request either a philosophical or religious exemption to the policies, which are intended to limit the spread of the pandemic.
The attorney general’s office also made both letters available for download on social media, cautioning that they don’t actually represent legal advice.
“I do not consent to forcing a face covering on my child, who is created in the image of God.”
“I do not consent to forcing a face covering on my child, who is created in the image of God,” the letter requesting a religious exemption states. “Masks lead to anti-social behaviors, interfere with religious commands to share God’s love with others, and interfere with relationships in contravention of the Bible.”
“I believe that Christians are called to communicate God’s words and message of love to the world. See Luke 9:2,” the letter adds in an introductory section that quotes exclusively Christian scripture.
The letter requesting a philosophical exemption, meanwhile, asserts parents have legal cover under a federal law that requires school districts to accommodate students with learning disabilities.
Landry doesn’t explain how that law is relevant to face masks. Nevertheless, he encourages parents to invoke it while claiming mask mandates threaten their child’s “mental and emotional health by hindering his verbal and nonverbal communication with classmates.”
The memo was sent just hours before Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) restored a statewide indoor mask mandate as the coronavirus delta variant tightens its grip.
“Nobody should be laboring under the misapprehension that this is just another surge,” Edwards said in announcing the mask rule restoration. “This is the worst one we’ve had.”
Landry has been mentioned as a potential GOP contender in the 2023 gubernatorial election. Edwards can’t run again because of term limits.
Landry spokesperson Millard Mule didn’t respond to an email from HuffPost about Landry’s memo or his vaccination status.