The spiritual effort was announced at a press conference to discuss the state’s response to COVID-19.
“I’m going to call for three days of fasting and prayer for our state, for July 20th through the 22nd,” said Governor John Bel Edwards, at a press conference to discuss the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
With over 91,000 cases of coronavirus, Louisiana was named by the White House Coronavirus Task Force as one of 18 states that should consider increasing restrictions to stem the spread of the disease. Last week, Governor Edwards mandated mask-wearing, limited bars to takeout service only, and limited indoor social gatherings to 50 people.
Edwards said that fighting the coronavirus with spiritual means is in keeping with the way he practices his faith.
Prayer and fasting are “a spiritual diet and exercise that I as a Catholic Christian believe is very important, anyway,” said Edwards, reported
the Catholic News Agency.
The governor said he will be fasting from lunch Monday through Wednesday of this week, and “praying for the people of Louisiana,” especially the sick, their caretakers, and the families of those who have died from COVID-19.
“So if you’re inclined, please join me and the First Lady and faith leaders of Louisiana, regardless of your denomination or your religion, and we would ask that you join us in prayerful reflection and fasting,” he said.
The governor acknowledged that his latest attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus is “a little bit unusual,” but said he believes it will bear fruit for the state.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who recovered from the disease in April and blessed the city with holy water from an airplane, encouraged people to fast too.
“I encourage people of all faiths to pray for those who have died from the coronavirus, for the healing of those who are sick at the present time, for caregivers and healthcare workers on the front lines, and for our protection throughout the world and particularly in our own state that the virus may come under control,” wrote Aymond on Facebook.
“We know that God hears our prayers, and we must cooperate with him in doing our part to make certain that we do not spread the virus by adhering to the governor’s call for masks and social distancing. With the governor, I also invite all people of faith and goodwill to fast on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” he wrote.
Fasting from a meal is a form of prayer, Aymond said. “We by our actions say ‘God, I hunger more for your protection and our safety than I do for food. Come to our help!’”