Louisiana is the latest state to loosen its longstanding rules on child care providers that forbid them from wearing masks indoors. The uniform requirement was first implemented by the state’s medical board in 1991 but had been repeatedly overturned as science showed that masks could protect young children in the worst of weather conditions.
In a memo to state lawmakers, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican, cited the growing number of respiratory diseases among children as the main reason behind his decision to remove the requirement for unlicensed providers.
“Children have the greatest exposure to environmental hazards during the early years of their lives,” Nungesser wrote. “Nearly every county in the state has had at least one person diagnosed with both asthma and a rhinovirus during the past five years.”
Parents who didn’t want their children to be exposed to people coughing indoors can continue to schedule visits for more serious respiratory problems. Public school providers can continue to apply for licenses to use indoor masks for their own use.
Louisiana isn’t the only state to relax its rules on masks for children. For instance, Missouri repealed its indoor masks law a couple of years ago. A 2011 change to its health code allowed licensed child care providers to wear masks for certain temperatures, although it was scrapped by the state legislature in 2016.
The governors of the 10 most populous states — California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have all recently signed legislative changes that allow some health departments to change standard health codes when their interpretations conflict with the American College of Chest Physicians’ diagnostic guidelines.