BATON ROUGE — Governor Edwards held a press conference on Thursday beginning the briefing by announcing two additional cases of the UK variant of the COVID virus.
For more on those cases, see more from the Louisiana Department of Health, here. Edwards says that while the UK variant has been found in Louisiana, other variants have not yet been detected.
"We haven't yet confirmed other variants of the disease in Louisiana. It is very likely those variants will move across the country.
Edwards says that the possibility of the UK variant being the dominant strain in the US and Louisiana is possible. He is urging Louisianans to follow mitigation measures to slow the spread.
"we all need to take this very seriously. We see some improvements but we are in a very difficult place. These variants are very concerning.
Variants of the coronavirus are more transmissible but the severity of the variants have not been seen. Vaccines are expected to still be capable of handling these different variants, including the UK variant which has been recorded in the state.
2,517 new cases of covid-19 cases with 55 new deaths were reported in Louisiana on Thursday. See the breakdown of the numbers here.
Edwards asks that residents continue to focus on mitigation measures in place, protecting yourself and others around you. Those measures include wearing masks, washing hands, and being socially distant.
Vaccines are still being administered in the state. Currently Phase 1-A priority group is still eligible along with Phase 1-B 1, which includes people 70 years of age and older and first responders.
"We are right at 400,000 doses administered and 59,000 second doses administered since vaccinations began in the state," Edwards announced
1,918 providers have been administering vaccines to those eligible people. Some of the providers are not currently being used due to the limited vaccine allocations given to the state.
"We certainly have a lot of work to do to improve our process. We still have a large demand for vaccine," Edwards said.
The state will stay with the current priority group. An announcement for additional groups is not ready to be announced, the governor stated.
A 16 percent increase on the vaccine allocation will be coming to Louisiana. 67,000 doses are expected for next week. The increase will be mostly of the Moderna vaccine. 38,100 doses in total. Around 29,000 of the Pfizer vaccine will be given to Louisiana next week.
In addition, the state will have three weeks advance on information on how much vaccine the state will receive to help with allocation to providers.
"We still anxiously await the approval of new vaccines for use," Edwards says.
Johnson and Johnson, the single dose vaccine, is expected to be more involved over the next few months.
The data collection on the LDH dashboard still has some issues when it comes to demographics on vaccine distribution, Edwards says. The site should have a clearer picture within the next week update.
Dr. Kanter spoke on the UK variants in the state, an announcement that LDH made just before the governor spoke on Thursday.
Viral transmission has seemed to peak in the state, Kanter said. "we are still high. In terms of risk, it is still about as high as it has ever been."
Kanter did say he was encouraged that the state may be finally turning the corner on the transmission rate. Percent positivity has decreased to 8 percent. He says there is a rough road ahead, with the UK variant. Two were confirmed in the New Orleans area, and another in the Lake Charles area.
Several others are waiting for confirmation in other regions of the state.
"We anticipate those cases will grow. Sometime in March, the UK variant will be the dominant strain," Kanter said.
411, 850 first dose allocations in total for the state by the end of next week. CDC has numbers for first and second doses. They provide that information on their tracker.
First round of vaccine administrations at nursing homes should end on February 8, 2021.
Edwards asks that if residents have not, they should download the COVID Defense app. You can find more on that app here.
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