Louisiana's COVID numbers are not good, Gov. John Bel Edwards said today during his weekly press briefing.
Today, the highest number of new cases was reported for the state since the pandemic began, he said.
"We are at record highs today, again," he said. "We have the highest number of daily cases as at any point in the pandemic."
The percent positive was about 18 percent, which tells you that community spread "is a real issue right now in the state of Louisiana." The hospitalization number today also is higher than any other day in during the pandemic, he said.
"We're very much on a trajectory of increased positives, increased cases, increased hospitalizations that directly threatens our ability to deliver life-saving care in our hospitals," he said. "We are not imminent in terms of resorting to crisis care, but clearly if we stay on this trajectory over time that will happen. I appeal to the people of Louisiana to take stock of where we are.... and do what is necessary. Do what we have to, and do what we know works. Engage in those mitigation measures religiously. Mask. Distance. Wash your hands. Stay home when you are sick."
There are problems now with high numbers of non-COVID patients in hospitals, and with doctors and nurses who have COVID themselves and can't work.
"We are in a very difficult place, and it doesn't do any good to sugar-coat this and pretend it's not real. I assure you, this is real," Edwards said. "There's more COVID in our state than ever before, and we have no reason to believe we've seen the full impact of all the Christmas travel and activities and gatherings, and coming behind that is New Year's. We can't undo what was done yesterday, but what we can do is focus on what we can do today to make sure that, as soon as possible, we get to a better place."
We all have to work to flatten the curve, he said.
"Again, I'm appealing to the people of Louisiana to, even if you don't like them, and I suspect nobody really likes them, practice the mitigation measures that we know work. Frankly, they're not that damned onerous. Put a mask on," he said. "You owe it to your family. You owe it to the community. You owe it to those healthcare workers. Even if you're not concerned about yourself. Let's all do better."
Edwards said the state is trying to set up a good infrastructure for citizens to get their vaccinations, so that when we get more vaccine we're ready. The vaccine should bring a sense of hope to everyone, he said, but we also have to be realistic about where we are with that.
"We're months away from having enough vaccine administered to make a dent in what is our current problem. The mask remains the most effective tool we have at our disposal," he said.
This week is the first step, he said.
"We are trying to make vaccine available to more people in more places as we move forward. We want to get the infrastructure right, so as we move forward more people can get vaccinated," Edwards said. "We are gratified at demand we're seeing, and it appears that there is growing demand for it, and reduced vaccine hesitancy and that's warranted because it's safe and it's effective. And, listen, we're not going to put this pandemic behind us until enough of our population is vaccinated."
Edwards commented briefly on the unrest in the nation's capitol.
"Based on things happening around the country, we're off to a pretty bad start," Edwards said of the new year. "It's sad, tragic, regrettable what's happening in Washington right now. I hope leaders of all parties will call for calm right now."
He also said he had signed orders calling special elections for two of Louisiana's congressional seats. For Cedric Richmond's seat, who has resigned to take a post with the Biden Administration, and for Luke Letlow's seat. Letlow was elected but died of COVID before he was sworn in. The elections will be held this spring, he said.
The governor also offered his congratulations to Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy. He's a native of Amite, which is also Edwards' hometown.
During the briefing Edwards will speak about the COVID-19 response in the state. Last week, Edwards announced a new tier of residents who would be eligible to receive the vaccine. On Monday, pharmacies began distributing limited doses to the vaccine.
The vaccines will be available only for those in Phase 1B, Tier One:
- People who are 70 years of age and above;
- Home health services patients and staff;
- Ambulatory/outpatient health care personnel;
- Residents, students and staff of schools of allied health; and
- People being treated for end stage renal disease (patients on dialysis).
More doses are expected to be supplied within the coming weeks. During that press conference last week, Edwards also stated that front-line workers would be next to receive the vaccine, although he was not sure when that next phase would be ready for implementation. Phase 1B Tier One includes around 640,000 eligible people.
On Tuesday, The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced that they would allow hospitals to administer any leftover vaccines they may have to anyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine.
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