WATCH: Gov. Edwards says fourth surge is most severe yet

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Governor John Bel Edwards addressed the media Friday as the state continues to set records for new COVID cases and hospitalizations.

The State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said in the last two weeks 1% of Louisiana’s population has tested positive for COVID and there is still no sign of it slowing just yet.

Doctors pointed out this wave of the pandemic is unlike the others before. Children and people under 29 are being impacted more by the delta variant. Just this week 6,000 children tested positive for COVID. As of Friday, there are 6,116 new deaths since Monday, with 277 patients on ventilators. The positivity rate is at 15.4%, and there have been more than 200 deaths this week.

Gov. Edwards has three main goals: increase vaccinations, slow transmissions by curbing the spread and increasing hospital care.

“I do have hope, over the last month those choosing to be vaccinated is up by 300%,” Edwards said. “I am heartened by that trajectory.”

Louisiana is tied with Arkansas for lowest percentage of vaccinations at fourth place.

Dr. Kanter said 50 hospitals around the state have asked for assistance due to short staffing and more people headed to the ICU.

“If you are sick do not hesitate to go to the hospital. But if you have very minor symptoms or just need a test please try to avoid the ER,” Dr. Kanter said. “We’re trying to preserve the very limited capacity the ER’s have right now for patients who truly do require their services right now.”

This week the governor’s mask mandate went into effect on Wednesday. Doctors said masking is the main thing that can help slow the spread as more of the state gets vaccinated. About 37.5% are now fully vaccinated. More than two million people now have at least their first dose.

This week Attorney General Jeff Landry questioned whether the governor has the authority to mandate masks in schools. He offered a letter to his staff to circulate that would give parents a potential reason to opt out of the mandate.

“I think the Attorney General is just completely wrong and not only is he wrong he’s going out of his way to undermine public confidence in the basic mitigation measures that will slow transmission at a time when we need it more than any other time in this pandemic,” Gov. Edwards said.

For the first time in months, the state has had to order more doses of the vaccine to make up for demands with more than 11,000 people taking their first dose a day.

The governor said he is not considering other mitigation efforts or any kind of shutdown at this time. He is focusing on getting people in compliance with the current orders and to get more people vaccinated.

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