Lafayette Makes National News For Refusing To Enforce Mask Mandate
The Lafayette City Council's decision not to impose a mask mandate and Mayor-President Josh Guillory's decision not to enforce the governor's mask mandate is catching national attention. It's also raising questions from local business leaders about what Lafayette Consolidated Government and its leaders are doing to raise the city's and parish's reputations on a national and global scale.
CBS national correspondent David Begnaud filed a report on the situation for the Monday edition of CBS This Morning. Begnaud, a Lafayette native, and KLFY alumnus, spoke with the son and widow of David Guarisco, who died last month from complications of COVID-19. At his funeral, Guarisco's son, Peter, and his widow, Gayle George, argued with funeral home management about what they called the non-enforcement of the state's mask mandate. They also described their unsuccessful effort to convince members of the city council to support a local mask ordinance.
Another feature of Begnaud's piece is video he and his crew recorded in downtown Lafayette over the weekend. Not only were downtown bar patrons not wearing masks, but they were also openly flaunting it. One woman even put her face up to the camera and cheered as her friends laughed at her.
Begnaud's package prompted an immediate response from pro-maskers in Acadiana. Here are just a few of the comments of people who shared the story from CBS News's Facebook page.
Dustin Thibodeaux - "This is why people think we have pet alligators and drive pirogues to work."
Gwendolyn Hollinger - "Lafayette makes national news again for some IGNORANCE... I guess that Boudreaux/ Thibodeaux lack on common sense is not just a joke/ stereotype?! ‼️‼️‼️ "
Jacque Rowe - :"Lafayette is embarrassing itself on National News again. ♂️"
Rocky Menard - "Not how I like our city to make the news."
Connie Garrett - "We gotta a long way to go!"
Laura King - "Great job Lafayette. The stupidity of our city made to CBS. Mask up y’all!"
Project Protest - "Congratulations, Josh Guillory and Lafayette Consolidated Government! Y'all finally got the media attention y'all so desperately crave! A huge "Thank you" to David Begnaud for highlighting Lafayette "leadership's" partisan, anti-science rhetoric, as well as their complete disregard for human life. #JoshGuilloryIsNotALeader #WingingItTogether"
A local business leader we spoke to but did not want to be named also questioned local leadership's work to fix what they call an image problem for the city.
"The reality is is that there's not mask mandate, so there's nothing anyone can hold anyone to," that business leader told us. "So you walk downtown, and you'll find a bunch of young people looking to party. There are no rules. That's part of the reason why we are where we are.
"It's frustrating to see that because it looks like downtown Lafayette is where you can do that. You can go to New Iberia or anywhere and do the same thing because no one is enforcing the (state) mask mandate. No one can hold anyone accountable because there's no enforcement."
That business leader also said the mask issue is the latest back eye for the city has suffered in the last calendar year, along with the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin by a Lafayette police officer. They say those incidents have undone the work of civic and business officials to market the city and parish to a national and worldwide audience in an attempt to attract businesses and residents to the area.
Those same sentiments were expressed by a couple of Lafayette residents on Twitter.
We reached out to Mayor-President Josh Guillory's office for comment. Spokesman Jamie Angelle says Guillory has not yet seen Begnaud's report. Angelle added that he would be in touch if Guillory responds to Begnaud's report.