BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Gov. John Bel Edwards sounded the alarm of rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations, noting that the state had lost “four months of progress” since the emergence of the Delta variant of the disease.
State officials say the state is entering the fourth surge of COVID-19, though the governor did say he is currently not considering new mitigation measures or mandates.
Edwards said the state has not seen current COVID numbers so high since March of this year. Since February, Edwards said 97% of cases and deaths related to COVID-19 involved people who were not vaccinated. Over the last 14 days, he said, infection rates have increased by 167%. Statewide positivity rates have risen to 6.3%, more than “three times what we saw a few weeks ago.” Last week, the positivity rate was 4%.
In the past two weeks, the number of COVID hospitalizations have doubled.
Increases have been seen in all regions of the state, said the governor, a scenario he called “a very serious situation.”
The state’s main stumbling block remains a flood of misinformation about the disease and the three available vaccines. Edwards called on citizens to stop the flow of misinformation, saying it is “literally costing lives.” Meanwhile, he asked those who have been vaccinated to be an ambassador for the vaccines.
State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said the state is “clearly in the fourth surge” of COVID, noting that the evidence is “overwhelmingly conclusive. Cases have been rising for the last 24 days, he said. The sharpest increases, he said, are coming in residents ages 5-39. He said he expects those numbers to worsen over the next few weeks.
Kanter said Delta is the dominant strain of the virus across the nation, with 59% of all Louisiana cases being reported as Delta. The same is true for the states surround Louisiana.
Edwards said he and state medical officials are “frustrated” at seeing the new surge.
“For so long, all we had was mitigation measures,” said Edwards. “Now, we actually have medical measures, and people are still getting sick, are still being hospitalized.”
Shot at a Million winners announced
Prior to the press conference, Edwards and the Department of Health announced the first winners of the Shot at a Million vaccine lottery.
Clement Dasalla and Skyla Degrasse were selected in the drawing conducted by the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and overseen by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor on Wednesday, July 14.
Dasalla, an 82-year-old New Orleans resident and veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, won the first of four $100,000 Shot At A Million cash prizes.
Degrasse, a 17-year-old high school senior at Hammond High School, won the first of nine $100,000 scholarships. Degrasse intends to go to Southeastern University, according to Edwards.
“Congratulations to Clement and Skyla for being our first Shot At A Million winners and for getting the COVID-19 vaccine so they can protect themselves and others,” said Edwards in a press release. “All across Louisiana, more and more people like Clement and Skyla are choosing to go Sleeves Up — and right now you have four more chances to join them as Shot At A Million winners. Now more than ever, we need our people to be protected against COVID-19 and, thankfully, we have three safe and effective vaccines that will do just that. So, go get your first vaccine and then register at ShotAtAMillion.com. Together, we can end the COVID pandemic in Louisiana.”
Edwards said there will be 14 drawings between July 14 and August 4. Prizes will include:
- One $1 million grand prize for an adult age 18 and up.
- Four $100,000 cash prizes for adults 18 and up.
- Nine $100,000 scholarships for students ages 12-17.
To participate, Edwards said Louisiana residents must be able to prove they have taken at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose and they must register at https://shotatamillion.com/. They may also register by phone at 1-877-356-1511. A person only needs to sign up once to be entered into all five weeks of drawings, which will be handled by the Louisiana Lottery Corporation and paid with federal coronavirus relief aid.