Governor Edwards began the Thursday press conference with an update on vaccination changes coming to Tier 1B-1.
They will lower the vaccination age from 70 to 65 and add a few more emergency response personnel to
The CDC asked the states to start with a priority of age 75 and above but Louisiana began with 70 as serious affects of COVID-19 were higher in that group.
In January, the CDC lowered the age range to 65. The state will now be able to go down to 65 as vaccine allocation is showing that is possible.
"It is in line with what other states are doing," Edwards said.
250,000 people will now be added to the priority tier 1B-1. This eligibility goes into effect on Monday February 8, 2021.
In total it is about 275,000 additional people being added to the eligibility, including those in the emergency response expansion. Emergency response personnel now eligible include some Unified Command Group members, state COVID emergency response personnel, law enforcement, first responders, and election workers for the upcoming March and April elections.
The vaccine allocation is increasing but that increase is slow going. More than 534,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state.
"It is going to be a long process measured in months, not days or weeks," the governor stated.
There will be an increase in doses by 5 percent. Those will come from Moderna. Edwards says that more visibility on the vaccine allotment will also be shared with states in advance.
Louisiana will also participate in a national pharmacy program including Walmart stories that will begin administering vaccines to the public.
57 Walmart pharmacies state-wide will begin distribution on February 11th. Around 15,000 vaccine doses will not have to come out of the allocation supply to the state. They say that next week, the state will provide vaccines to those Walmart pharmacies to start the program.
Edwards says that the state is looking into the demographics of those who have received the vaccine in the state. LDH is still working to clear up issues with the data. currently the demographics are 16% African American and 47% white 35% is listed as other.
For a breakdown of the state's COVID cases and deaths, click here.
Edwards once again stressed that residents be mindful during as special occasions and holidays approach. He mentioned Superbowl parties and the Mardi Gras holiday.
"Shame on us is Mardi Gras 2021 looks anything like Mardi Gras 2020," Edwards said.
The state still have high amounts of COVID across all 64 parishes, Edwards said. Dr. Kanter with LDH reiterated that point stating that cases seemed to have peaked but are still high.
"The risk of community spread is exorbitantly high," Kanter said. "The risk of being exposed to COVID during daily activities in all 64 parishes is high."
Dr. Kanter reminded the public about the COVID Defense app which helps show potential exposure risks for the user. Read more here.
Allocations of the vaccine 411,850 first doses were provided to the state since vaccinating began. 29,250 Pfizer vaccines and 41,600 Moderna vaccines will be provided for next week to the state.
The state will be taking 10,000 doses from the long-term care partnership to add them to in-state allocation and an additional 5,700 doses to begin the pharmacy program.
According to Kanter there were losses of the vaccine in the state, including 133 doses lost at a Shreveport hospital due to temperature and 200 doses lost in a pharmacy in the Lafayette area.
"All the loses are from human error," Kanter said.
Kanter went over the UK variant, which LDH reported two more cases of in the state on Thursday. Those were reported in the Southwest Louisiana, Region 5. Total confirmed cases in the state are at 5.
20 tests are pending to determine the variant.
"We should assume that the variant is out and about and circulating through the area," Kanter said. "There is a good likelihood that we will have a second spike before we have herd immunity."
More information from the governor's office regarding the expansion of vaccine eligibility and the state's current vaccine strategy can be found here.
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