Louisiana Republican statewide elected officials won't require COVID testing for state workers
Though Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to require COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated state workers under his span, none of the other six statewide elected officials, all Republicans, are committed to following his lead in their agencies.
Edwards' administration hasn't finalized details of the testing plan for unvaccinated workers, but he does have a statewide mask mandate in place that applies to all Louisianans.
Attorney General Jeff Landry sent an email to employees Tuesday afternoon assuring them he would issue no mandates, including following the governor's existing mask order.
"Yesterday, it was reported that the governor plans to require state workers be vaccinated or be tested regularly," the email said. "Though his latest plans have not been detailed thoroughly, I can assure you this: I have no desire to impose those mandates upon you.
"While we will continue to make masks available and provide information on where you may get vaccines, you are still allowed to decide for yourself whether you wear a mask or get vaccinated.
"As you know, I strongly believe in your choice to make the best healthcare decisions for you and your family. While some in government want to control your conduct and mandate your medical measures, I want to remind you that you are free. I support your rights and liberties, and no gubernatorial threat will change that."
Agriculture Commission Mike Strain and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said they will evaluate the governor's pending order and others like Treasurer John Schroder and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said they are already taking safety precautions that don't include testing mandates.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon's staff said he was waiting to learn more about Edwards' plan.
"We'll take a look at it to see if it's something we should do," Nungesser said. "I'll make a decision by the end of the week."
"We haven't made a decision," Strain said. "We've been striving to keep everybody safe and begging everybody to get the vaccine because this delta variant is highly contagious."
Schroder said he has half of his staff working remotely so those on site can social distance, "but I'm not ready to make a decision to mandate testing."
Ardoin said he won't mandate testing now, "but we have asked those who aren't vaccinated to mask up around others."
"I think (vaccines and testing) should be an individual's choice, and I don't see the need to change that position at this point," Ardoin said.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.