BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced during a news conference Wednesday, March 24 that all state residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine beginning Monday, March 29.
Gov. Edwards and Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) urged everyone to get vaccinated so the state can achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.
The governor said the state was prompted to expand vaccine eligibility when they informed the federal government would be increasing, the state’s allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Edwards urged those who qualified to receive the vaccine in the state’s initial tiers of eligibility but, have not yet received it, to get vaccinated. Both officials said the state is now in a “race against time” to achieve herd immunity before multiple variants of the coronavirus spread and increase infections and hospitalizations.
While Louisiana has had some success in greatly reducing the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations in early 2021, Gov. Edwards and Dr. Kanter warned the work is not over yet.
“We have positive trends with COVID-19 but the overall picture is not rosy,” Gov. Edwards said.
Dr. Kanter says the state’s progress has “stalled” due to an increase in transmission of the virus in the Lake Charles area (LDH Region 5).
The Lake Charles area currently has the highest positivity rate in the state, which has almost doubled in the last week and hospitalizations have increased in the last month, Gov. Edwards explained.
All of the alarming data in the Lake Charles area is in contrast to flat or declining cases and hospitalizations in other parts of the state, he said.
Gov. Edwards said health officials believe the detection of the UK variant of the coronavirus in the Lake Charles area is linked to the increase of cases and hospitalizations.
The governor said he doesn’t want people in other parts of Louisiana to take the situation in southwest Louisiana lightly or “breathe a sigh of relief” because it’s not happening in their area.
“That’s not how pandemics work,” Gov. Edwards said. He and Dr. Kanter urged all Louisiana residents to continue to practice coronavirus mitigation measures and make an effort to get vaccinated.
When asked for comment on Attorney General Jeff Landry’s lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration on its moratorium of new developments of oil and gas wells on federal lands and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, Gov. Edwards said he did not have a chance to read the lawsuit.
He said he would continue his outreach to the Biden administration to stress the importance of Louisiana-produced oil and natural gas and would remain in contact with industry executives.
Attorneys General from 13 other states including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia, joined the lawsuit filed by Landry Wednesday morning.
When asked about what his administration was doing to prevent Title IX violations from occurring at LSU and other universities in the state he said his administration was working with state legislators to propose a bill for the upcoming Louisiana Legislative session to address mandatory reporting of sexual assault cases on college campuses. Gov. Edwards said the bill would mandate firing employees who failed to report allegations of sexual assault.
Former LSU president F. King Alexander, who was at LSU during when the mishandling of cases occurred, resigned as president from Oregon State University (OSU) Tuesday, March 24 amid scrutiny over his leadership at LSU from the OSU board of trustees and the OSU community.
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