BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Citing the state's sharp declines in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations, Louisiana State University announced Friday it will no longer require proof of coronavirus vaccinations or negative tests to enter Tiger Stadium for football games.
The change will start with LSU's next home game, Oct. 16 against Florida. While the vaccination and testing requirements are ending, fans still will have to wear masks in any indoor areas of the stadium as required under Gov. John Bel Edwards' statewide mask mandate.
Dr. Catherine O'Neal, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and a coronavirus advisor to the university, said the state is seeing fewer than 5% of COVID-19 tests returning positive statewide as Louisiana exits its fourth and worst surge of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations that once topped 3,000 in mid-August have steeply fallen, with the state health department reporting 592 people hospitalized with the coronavirus illness Friday.
“Because of this success, we are able to lift the vaccine and testing requirements for entry into Tiger Stadium. By balancing mitigation efforts and risk in the ongoing fight to end the pandemic, we can protect our community and safely celebrate the traditions that bring us together," O'Neal said in the statement released by LSU.
Several people who attended football games had said the university's compliance checks for proof of vaccine or testing had been spotty at best.
Meanwhile, Edwards is no longer pursuing efforts to mandate regular COVID-19 testing for thousands of state workers who aren't vaccinated. In August, the Democratic governor's administration had said it was reviewing ways to add the testing requirement to try to persuade more people to get the shots.
Edwards said he will continue to encourage immunizations, but he said a testing program on the scale that would be required for state workers is too “challenging” to implement, and he's shelved the idea.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.