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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Louisiana hospitals are on the brink of collapse as COVID cases continue to surge.

Governor John Bel Edwards said the state has reached a new record for hospitalizations and Louisiana leads the nation in the number of new cases per capita.

COVID is impacting everyone, but especially younger people. The Governor is now offering $100 to the first 75,000 college students to get vaccinated. The Governor’s announcement comes as hospitals across the state are on the brink of catastrophe.

“We are rapidly getting to the point where we could have a major failure of our healthcare delivery system. Some people out there are having their healthcare delayed and for them, the system has already failed,” said Governor Edwards.

The state’s health leader, Dr. Joseph Kanter said hospitalizations are nearly one third higher than any other point in the pandemic. Dr. Kanter maintains the risk of catching COVID in Louisiana has never been higher.

“If people choose not to mask, choose not to distance, if people choose not to get vaccinated, cases of COVID will go up, this surge will continue and the situation in hospitals will get worse,” Dr. Kanter said.

The state has seen outbreaks in daycares, summer camps and workplaces.

“When you look at the contact tracing data, there is no question that there is significant transmission including among children,” Dr. Kanter said.

When asked why tighter restrictions are not in place as Louisiana is facing the worst COVID crisis yet, Governor Edwards said, “What we’re doing was recommended to us by the CDC. We believe that through the combination of masking and vaccination and encouraging people to follow other mitigation measures, that that should be sufficient to turn the tide and get us to the peak for it to come down on the backside of this surge.”