WATCH: Gov. Edwards talking COVID-19 in 2:30 p.m. press conference

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – Gov. John Bel Edwards will address the media regarding the state’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic in his first press conference of 2021 Wednesday afternoon.

Scheduled for 2:30 p.m., the press conference will be live streamed on the governor’s Facebook page and can also be viewed on his website, www.gov.louisiana.gov.

The press conference will be held as the state continues its fourth week of what is expected to be a months-long vaccination process, which is being spearheaded by the Louisiana Department of Health.

The state began administering the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to frontline healthcare workers on Dec. 14 before later administering the Moderna vaccine to the staff and residents of long-term care facilities, emergency medical services employees, and firefighters.

Both vaccines require a second dose: For the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose comes 21 days after the first; for the Moderna vaccine, the second dose comes 28 days later. On Monday, healthcare workers began receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

This week, the Department of Health released a list of more than 100 pharmacies that can begin administering the Moderna vaccine for Priority Group 1B Tier 1, consisting of people 70 and older as well as some additional healthcare workers.

Health officials have said that more individuals and groups will be offered a vaccination as more vaccines become available from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

For now, the state remains in its third surge since the pandemic began in March. On Tuesday, the state reached its most COVID-19 hospitalizations — 1,974 — since April 14, the state’s first surge. In just over a week, hospitalizations have risen by 444.

New daily cases also continue to rise in large numbers — the state has reported more than 10,300 since New Year’s Day.

For the week of Dec. 17-23, the statewide positivity rate was 10.70, an increase from the two previous weeks and the highest since July 23-29.

The rise in new cases, percent positivity, and hospitalizations led to a high number of deaths. December tied August for the second-most COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began, with 952 Louisianans succumbing to the virus.

Only the month of April (1,623) has had more fatalities.

And things could get worse: On Tuesday, the Department of Health said the impact of the holidays “remains to be seen.”

In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus and maintain hospital capacity, Edwards last month kept the state in its modified version of Phase Two, which he originally implemented Nov. 25.

Under Phase Two, most non-essential businesses are limited to 50-percent capacity while indoor (25-percent capacity or 75 people) and outdoors (25-percent capacity or 150 people) social gatherings also have limitations.

The new order is in effect until Jan. 13, 2021.

The governor, who hasn’t yet announced whether he intends to extend the state’s current mitigation measures or implement newer restrictions, implored to follow public health measures, like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing via social media Tuesday evening.

“It’s time to hold the line, Louisiana,” Edwards tweeted. “Vaccines will not be able to slow our current surge. It’s up to each of us, so let’s wear our masks, social distance, wash our hands, and be responsible.”

As of Tuesday, the state is reporting:

  • 295,825 confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • 30,823 “probable” cases
  • 7,241 confirmed COVID-19 deaths
  • 394 “probable” deaths
  • 4,500,223 total COVID-19 tests
  • 263,712 “presumed” recoveries (updated every Wednesday)
  • 56,452 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered (updated every Tuesday and Thursday)

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