NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed the state ahead of the New Year’s Eve holiday just one day after the state saw its largest case count in a single day since the pandemic began.
Edwards began with a tribute to Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who died this week from the virus.
Edwards said that Letlow’s death is a reminder that this virus is deadly to everyone, and announced that flags would be flown half-staff across the state on the day of his funeral.
According to Edwards, the state was given good news in that it will receive more Moderna vaccines next week.
One hundred pharmacies statewide will receive the vaccine to administer to the next priority group, which includes adults 70 years old and up.
The initial supply of vaccine will be extremely limited and people must contact a designated pharmacy to make appointments before going in to be vaccinated. At this time, only people in Priority Group 1-B, Tier One, which is people 70 years and older and ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel, will be able to get the COVID vaccine at a designated pharmacy. Appointments are required; do not show up to a pharmacy for a vaccine without one.
Beginning Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health will list pharmacies where the COVID vaccine is available on its website, covidvaccine.la.gov. In the initial Phase 1B roll out, LDH anticipates that approximately 100 pharmacies in 52 parishes will receive around 10,500 doses total in the first week. Each eligible pharmacy will receive approximately 100 doses.
“I am relieved to end this year by expanding access to the COVID vaccine to more Louisianans, though I know we have a long road ahead of us before we put this pandemic in our rear view mirrors,” Gov. Edwards said. “I hope all Louisianans will consider taking this safe and effective vaccine when it is their turn to get it, because that is how we will ultimately reach herd immunity and get our lives back to some form of normalcy. Already we have lost more than 7,400 people in our state to this terrible virus, and new cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. This vaccine is a new weapon we have in the fight against COVID, but to be effective people must take it. In addition, we have outlined how we will proceed with the next tier of people in line, so that people may plan for the future.”
In the first two weeks of vaccination, 45,289 Louisianans have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is safe and effective against the virus. A second dose must be administered for people to gain fuller protection from COVID.
So far, 210,350 doses have been allocated for Louisiana, of which 56,200 have been designated for the federal Long Term Care Facilities partnership and reside with Walgreens and CVS. Vaccinations for residents and staff of long term care facilities, such as nursing homes, just started this week.
PRIORITY GROUPS IN LOUISIANA
Within priority groups and tiers there is no particular sequencing.
Priority Group 1-A: Ongoing (around 249,000 eligible people)
- Health care workers at Tier 1 and Tier 2 hospitals
- Staff and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- Emergency Medical Services employees and firefighters
Priority Group 1-B, Tier One: Starts Monday, January 4, 2021 (around 640,000 eligible people)
- Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
- End stage renal disease facility personnel and patients
- Home agency patients and personnel
- Ambulatory and outpatient health care personnel
- Persons 70 years old and older
Priority Group 1-B, Tier Two: Starts at a later date (around 318,750 eligible people)
- Health-related support personnel (labs, mortuary, pharmacy)
- Essential governmental response personnel
- Judiciary personnel
- Department of Homeland Security personnel, National Guard (non-COVID deployed), federal intelligence and security personnel, military personnel
- First responders not covered in Phase 1A
- Corrections officers and jailers
- Medical transportation services
- Homeless shelter and other congregate group home/center staff
- K-12 school and daycare personnel
- Food processing and agricultural workers
- Postal personnel
- Public transit workers
- Grocery store workers and other deemed frontline essential workers
According to Edwards, no one in Louisiana who has received the vaccine has had a serious adverse reaction.
Edwards stressed that Louisiana is not in a good place, and that coronavirus restrictions such as social distancing and face masks must be followed.
New record in COVID-19 cases:
The Louisiana Department of Health released its daily coronavirus data Wednesday morning confirming 6,700 new COVID-19 cases across the state.
“Today’s update does NOT contain a backlog of cases. This is the highest number of daily cases reported to date in Louisiana that does not contain a backlog nor two days of reporting. The previous highest number of cases reported was 4,339 new cases on Dec. 9,” according to a tweet by the health department.
Fifty-one new deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the state’s death toll to over 7,400.
According to the health department, the statewide percent positivity for Dec. 17 through 23 is now 10.7%.
LDH confirmed that most of the case’s samples were collected over the Christmas holiday, between Dec. 22 and 29.
COVID-19 case surges are often seen two weeks after holidays.