Governor Edwards will hold a media briefing to discuss Louisiana's response to the ongoing fourth surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health announced Shot For 100, a new vaccine incentive program that will give $100 to the first 75,000 college students who get their COVID-19 vaccine at participating institutions of higher education.
18-to-29-year-olds are one of the two least vaccinated age groups in Louisiana, and are reporting the most cases statewide.
“With the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant and its devastating impact on our communities including younger populations, we are seeing more young people go sleeves up. And that’s good. More than anything, students want an in-person college experience. But to do that safely, we need more shots in arms,” said Gov. Edwards. “It's in everyone's interest that our young people get the COVID vaccine — to protect themselves, their families and friends, and their larger communities.”
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge statewide, and that includes young people. Louisianans are getting it, they are feeling the urgency as you can see in our increasing vaccination rate,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer. “We hope this fun vaccine perk nudges more young people to get the vaccine now rather than later and keep up the momentum we need to put this pandemic behind us.”
All institutions of higher education will be eligible to participate, including universities, community and technical colleges, and private institutions.
LDH is working closely with the Louisiana Board of Regents, and they are communicating to colleges and universities that this new reward program is available to them.
How Shot For 100 will work
Because Shot For 100 will be led by individual campuses, the program may look different from institution to institution, and students should expect to hear more from their school in the coming days.
At participating colleges and universities, students will be given a deactivated Visa card upon vaccination. After registering online at ShotFor100.com [r20.rs6.net] that card will be loaded with $100.
To learn more about this exciting new program, visit ShotFor100.com [r20.rs6.net] or call Louisiana’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774. In addition to learning more about Shot For 100, the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline can answer questions about the vaccines and connect callers to medical professionals.
COVID CONCERNS AND UPATES:
Dr. Joseph Kanter with LDH says they are awaiting a sign that we are turning a corner. Kanter walked thorugh the data saying that we have never been to a point with this much COVID circulating and with the large amount of patients in hospitals.
To see the state's numbers, click here.
Kanter says that there have been 39 outbreaks including restaurants, daycare, and religious venues. There is no question that there is significant transfer in young people, including children. "That is why masking is in place.
Louisiana is leading the nation as a COVID hot spot, Florida ranks at number two. "We continue to be an hot spot in the country," Kanter said.
Kanter says that hospitals are seeing an increase in patients which is causing a struggle in care for patients, COVID positive or not. 58 hospitals reached out to LDH for help, indicating they cannot reach the demands of the patients.
"We have never had that happen, Kanter said. Resources for patients have been spread thin, he said. Kanter gave an example of an acute Heart Attack patient had to bypass 6 hospitals until they could find a hospital to take them. Kanter says that no other hospitals had a bed.
"This is something that is happening across the state. These medical emergencies happen to everyone," Kanter said.
Kanter says this situation is not happening by itself, we have the agency to avert this situation. We have the tools, he says, masking, distancing, vaccination. "This will get worse."
He says that getting vaccinated is essential in this surge but even when vacciated, it is important to still mask and be socially distant.
Vaccination rate in Louisina is increasing. "The more we can continue to increase these vaccinations the more it can protects us from other surges."
Vaccinated people who have died are at 100 from COVID-19. 20 of those deaths were added last week. The Delta wave has increased the number of deaths from people who are vaccinated, Kanter says. The median age is 74 for those breakthrough infections. They are still the most at risk people in the community who are dying.
Dr. Amanda Logue with Ochsner Lafayette General spoke at the press conference today. This week, the hospital provided an update on the current surge they are seeing
Logue says that the pandemic is now stretching their resources and they are at a breaking point. "More so than any other point in time in the last 18 months,"
This morning, 162 patients with COVID at OLG hospitals. At the main campus there are 92 COVID cases. The average age of patients is 54 years old average. Mortality average is age 54.
That is 15 to 20 younger than previous mortality averages they have seen. That is one virus taking up 1/3 of hospital beds .
"Exhaustion is not even the word that describes it all," she said. "We don't know where the peak is going to be."
She says staff come back over and over again to help their community. She says that the hospital stress is affecting more than just the people with COVID.
Over 100 procedures at OLG have been put off. These are surgeries that need a bed to stay in. These are not just small procedures, she says. "They have no idea when they can get back in to get surgeries done. They are suffering,"
Logue says they are expanding units where they can and they are running out of space quickly with no more staff to pull from. The other major hospital in Lafayette, she says, is facing the same issue. COVID is adding on to an already busy hospital. Wait times can be 10 hours long. Logue mentioned that even 48 to 72 hours wait can be seen in the emergency rooms.
OLG says they are almost not able to accept any transfers from other hospitals. Around 70 percent of transfers since the 4th surge began have been turned away.
"We don't want anyone to sit at home out of fear if there is an emergency," Logue said. "But we might not be able to find a bed for you right away." Logue says that hospitalization numbers are very real.
She says that it is time to hunker down, avoid unnecessary gatherings and remain with people who are safe to be around. Logue recommends that people get tested earlier rather than later if you believe you may have COVID. Testing is widely available, she says.
Wearing a mask will help protect others. "It is time for us to take some personal responsibility. This is affecting us all."
Logue says that the hospital has conversations about what the next few weeks look like. They are considering shutting down other facilities to bring staff to their main hospital. Tele-medicine which is something Logue says OLG is already doing, may have to happen more.
Dr. Terry Thomas at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge says they are also seeing more concerns over the COVID pandemic. She spoke about the new CDC guidelines that encourage pregnant women to get the vaccine.
Thomas says that everyone should be vaccinated. "The pandemic has altered the course and quality of life for so many."
She recommends the vaccine for pregnant and breast feeding moms which she says are a part of the most vulnerable in our society. "the vaccine does not cause miscarriages."
Governor Edwards says that Louisiana should put their trust in their healthcare providers. "We have got to slow Delta down," he said.
Edwards continued to urge the use of mitigation measures. "Today is a new day, let's do what is required for ourselves, our families, and our state."
KATC will live stream the press conference on katc.com and our Facebook page. A live stream is viewable below:
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