(The Center Square) – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards will not be loosening any of the state’s anti-COVID-19 restrictions when the current order expires next week, Edwards said Thursday.
Whether the restrictions will get tighter will be decided and announced next week.
COVID-19 mitigation measures limit crowd sizes and the indoor capacity of businesses and churches and keep barrooms in most parishes closed to on-premise service. Face coverings are supposed to be worn in public places.
More than 1,600 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, according to the latest report by state health officials, which exceeds the peak from the state’s last coronavirus surge over the summer. And unlike Louisiana’s first surge in the spring, the state’s health care workers can’t expect reinforcements because other states are in the same predicament.
“Louisiana is on our own,” Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said. “Every corner of our state is experiencing increases [of COVID-19] right now.”
Louisiana received about 39,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, which were delivered to 71 hospitals around the state. State officials know at least 7,000 hospital workers have been vaccinated so far, though the real total likely is much higher.
Edwards said he won’t know until Friday how many vaccines Louisiana is expected to get for the following week.
Hospital workers, emergency medical transport personnel, and nursing home residents and employees are in the first priority group for vaccinations, according to federal guidelines. Hospitals got the first allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires “ultra-cold” storage that hospitals can provide.
The Moderna vaccine is expected to be available in the coming days and made available to nursing homes and medical transport providers. The state’s education superintendent and school board have asked school and early childhood education workers to be among the next groups to be vaccinated.
Edwards said many other groups have requested prioritization. State officials are awaiting further guidance from a federal panel about who should be next in line.
Edwards urged residents to continue to wear masks and keep their distance from people they don’t live with. He asked people to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations not to travel during the holiday season or attend holiday gatherings including multiple households.
“The end [of the pandemic] is in sight,” Kanter said. “But the road we’re on is treacherous.”