’Let’s not let up, instead let’s step up’ says Gov. Edwards during news conference on state’s COVID-19 response Friday

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks about the state's COVID-19 outbreak and vaccination...
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks about the state's COVID-19 outbreak and vaccination efforts on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte(Melinda Deslatte | AP)
Updated: Jan. 23, 2021 at 4:37 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news conference Friday, Jan. 22 on the state’s response to continued rise in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

After a recent surge in the number of positive infections statewide, mostly attributed to holiday travel and celebrations, Governor Edwards says he is hopeful the state will continue to see trends decrease.

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This comes after a more contagious strand of the virus has been identified in Louisiana.

The governor says the U.K. variant can potentially place an even greater burden on the state’s already struggling healthcare system, since it is more contagious.

RELATED: More contagious strain of COVID-19 detected in Louisiana

Another potential threat posed to Louisiana’s healthcare system is the number of COVID-19 vaccinations that are allocated to the state on a weekly basis.

Louisiana ranks 10th in the nation for the percentage of vaccine rollout, but many are tired of waiting and wondering if the state can possibly get more.

Friday, at Governor John Bel Edwards’ press conference he says, “We gearing up now to prepare for those increasing allocations so that while we’re not doing mass vaccination events currently, we are planning and preparing for those.”

It may take a while, but the governor says they do plan to get more vaccines for the state of Louisiana, but many have been struggling to get an appointment to roll up their sleeves.

“We’re not satisfied with where we are, we are going to improve and become more efficient in the way that we distribute and administer the vaccines, but the limiting factor for as it is for everyone in the state is simply the number of doses a vaccine being allocated to us on a weekly bases,” adds Edwards.

Edwards says that the allocations for the vaccine will be flat for the next four weeks, the state says that’s because vaccine providers can only give out so many doses each week.

“We are asking a lot of them because we don’t find out how much vaccine we’re getting exactly until a few days before it ships and gets arrived here. We’re not able to tell providers how much their going to get,” says Dr. Joseph Kanter.

In the future, the governor says they hope they can do mass vaccination sites once more vaccines come in. The state also says they are working on strike teams that will be able to help out rural and urban areas give out as many vaccines as possible.

The Governor has announced that the Louisiana Department of Health is rolling out a new dashboard that will report additional information on the number of vaccinations being administered statewide.

That new feature will display the number of vaccines being distributed according to region, gender, age and race.

LDH plans to update the new dashboard on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Another new tool the Governor says that is now available is a free app called COVID Defense.

The app is available for both Apple and Android devices and uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they come in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The tool is completely anonymous and voluntary.

The address comes two days after Gov. Edwards attended the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington D.C.

Gov. Edwards also discussed how he plans to work with the Biden administration on efforts to reduce the spread of the disease and ramp up the state’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Thursday, Jan. 21, only 40,863 people had completed a vaccine series, meaning they had received both recommended doses of the COVID-19 manufactured by either Pfizer or Moderna, according to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

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LDH officials say 301,316 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered statewide so far.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been declining steadily in the last week.

On Jan. 15, there were 2,021 COVID-19 patients in Louisiana’s hospitals. That number was down to 1,747 on Friday.

LDH reported 1,937 new cases of COVID-19 and 41 new COVID-19 related deaths Friday, Jan. 22.

RELATED: Gov. Edwards: Donna Britt was ‘master of her craft’ and a ‘brave fighter’

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