BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Governor John Bel Edwards looks back on 2021 in his year-end press conference. From battling the pandemic to Hurricane Ida to major infrastructure projects coming to light, it has been a busy year.
“There is no doubt it has been incredibly hard on the people of Louisiana in many, many respects,” Gov. Edwards said.
He also said Louisiana has come a long way in recovery from hurricanes and the pandemic, but there is still a long way to go. The pandemic dominated the year with multiple surges, including the arrival of the Delta variant which pushed Louisiana hospitals to the limit.
“The Delta variant caused the worst surge in cases and hospitalizations we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic,” Gov. Edwards said. “The positivity rate on tests administered reached 19%. Today it’s 2.1%. We have 196 people in the hospital today, we had over 3,000.”
While COVID numbers are better, he said the Omicron variant is a reminder the pandemic isn’t over. He said only 25% of people eligible have gotten their booster shots and only 50% of the state is fully vaccinated.
“It is my fervent hope that we won’t see the same post-holiday surge coming out of this holiday season like what we saw last year,” Gov. Edwards said. “But that has been the case since the outset of the pandemic but particularly once the vaccines became available that’s going to depend on us and what we do and don’t do.”
Housing remains a major issue in the state following the major hurricanes that hit the state in the last two years. Thousands are still living in shelters, hotels, and not in their homes.
“We know that housing, whether from Laura, Delta or Ida, remains the greatest need,” Gov. Edwards said.
He plans to release a housing action plan in the new year to apply for grants to help pay for housing programs.
He also touched on his hopes for the next legislative session to focus on spending all the federal money and state surplus dollars on projects that can make a difference in people’s lives. He also brought up the redistricting session that is set to take place at the start of February. He hopes to have maps that best reflect the population of the state, including making another one of the congressional districts a minority-majority.
The governor wished the state a blessed Christmas and asked people to join him in prayer and work towards a better 2022.