BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In his first news conference of 2021, Wednesday, Jan. 6, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards gave a dire warning about the state’s rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations but was optimistic about the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine despite a limited supply and a high demand.
Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reported 6,882 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. Officials said Wednesday’s case count is the state’s highest number of daily COVID-19 cases ever reported.
Most of the cases reported Wednesday were from tests conducted after Dec. 28, 2020, and Gov. Edwards said we have still not seen the full effects of the spread over either Christmas or New Year’s.
Louisiana also broke another alarming record Wednesday with 1,993 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19. The previous record was 1,991 patients hospitalized on April 12, 2020.
Gov. Edwards said he spoke with CEOs of Louisiana’s hospitals earlier in the day and they expressed dire concern about capacity in their healthcare facilities.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, the interim assistant secretary of LDH, echoed the governor’s message that the vaccine, in its current limited availability, will not stop the spread of the virus. Following the current mitigation measures will stop the spread now, he said.
Dr. Kanter also said some of the 107 pharmacies that received doses of the Moderna vaccine this week may not get their allocations replenished next week, meaning their waitlists may not shrink.
Gov. Edwards asked residents to be patient and said the state will continue to receive doses of the vaccine. He reiterated neither he nor LDH has control of how many doses the state receives. The governor also said the state will hold “mass vaccination events” when enough supply of the vaccine is on hand to do so. He said the state would partner with the National Guard and healthcare providers in hosting such events in the future but did not provide a timeline for them.
The governor also addressed the protests that happened at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Wednesday.
“It is sad and tragic what is happening in Washington right now,” he said.
Gov. Edwards also congratulated fellow Amite native, DeVonta Smith, on winning the Heisman Trophy Tuesday, Jan. 5. He joked that the people of his hometown were more excited to have a Heisman Trophy winner than a two-term governor.
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