Gov. talks masks, unemployment, and Census with Newell Normand

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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he's hopeful the U.S. House and Senate extend some form of enhanced unemployment benefits, but he also says people who are out of work can't depend on that, so it's best to start looking for a job now.

"We do have thousands of jobs out there that are available." Edwards told WWL's Newell Normand today. "We need to reconnect individuals with jobs where we can."

The governor said that the state's unemployment trust fund has gone from $1.1 billion in late March when the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns began, to around $270 million today.

Edwards also discussed the effectiveness of mask use in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

"We know that the vast majority of people in Louisiana understand the importance of wearing a mask, they support the mandate, but there are still too many people out there who don't," Edwards said. "What Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx tell us, if we can ever get close to a 90 percent compliance rate on masks, that that will go a huge way, a long way, in trying to reduce cases."

Today a judge ruled that the governor's mask mandate and other recent orders related to fighting the pandemic are legal.

The governor also urged residents who haven't completed their Census forms to please hurry up and do so, because the decennial national head count will be wrapping up soon.

"The Census Bureau is going to discontinue the count a month earlier than they had originally scheduled," said Edwards.

"Right now, we are one of the states at the bottom in terms of compliance," the governor said.

Edwards said participation in the Census is important to make sure Louisiana gets its federal tax dollars sent back to them, as well as representation in Washington, D.C., since congressional apportionment is based on the Census.

The Census form has to be completed by September 30. The governor says it only takes a few minutes, and can be completed by clicking here for 2020census.gov, or call (844) 330-2020.