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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette wants Acadiana Safe.

UL Lafayette is partnering with other community organizations in support of the Acadiana Safe initiative that’s encouraging mask wearing, social distancing and other actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The region has some of the highest rates of the virus in Louisiana, which itself has some of the highest rates in the nation. But that doesn’t have to be the case, Dr. Joseph Savoie, University president, reminded the audience at a Monday press conference announcing the creation of Acadiana Safe.

“We are not powerless against this virus,” he said.

Protective measures such as wearing masks and face coverings in public, keeping 6 feet between yourselves and others, and regularly and thoroughly washing your hands are effective in lessening the virus’ transmission. 

“These are simple, reasonable actions. They are grounded in common sense and reflect a responsibility each of us has to be good neighbors and community partners,” Savoie said. 

“And, most important, these behaviors save lives.”

In addition to the University, the Acadiana Safe campaign has support from the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette and other religious organizations; Acadian Ambulance; United Way of Acadiana; One Acadiana; and the region’s medical community, including Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center and Schumacher Clinical Partners.

Representatives from each attended the press conference, held in the UL Lafayette Student Union.

“Here at the University, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Savoie said. “So, we have more than 22,000 motivations for supporting this campaign and wanting it to succeed.”

Two of those motivations – Student Government Association President Hailey Boutte and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball outfielder Brennan Breaux – flanked Savoie on stage as he spoke. 

“Hailey, Brennan and every student deserves the complete University experience that comes from sitting and learning together and listening to each other,” Savoie said.

The University also wants to return to hosting music concerts, plays, lectures and athletic events – all of which have been limited or cancelled since March because of restrictions on large gatherings.

“We want football at Cajun Field and basketball in the Cajundome this fall, and softball at Lamson Park and baseball at Russo Park in the spring.

“For that to happen, for us to see Brennan put on his batting helmet then, everyone needs to put a mask on now.

“And, to enable us to welcome all students, faculty and staff back to campus in the months ahead, we’re asking everyone in the community to do the same.”

Find more about the Acadiana Safe campaign on its Facebook page.

Photo caption: Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, is flanked by Student Government Association President Hailey Boutte and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Baseball outfielder Brennan Breaux at an event Monday announcing the creation of the Acadiana Safe initiative. (Photo credit: Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)