NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Louisiana is leading the nation in new COVID cases per capita as demand for the vaccine is stagnant.
“The statewide average of daily cases per 100,000 residents has increased 208% over the past 14 days,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.
Edwards is crediting the fourth COVID surge to the Delta Variant and unvaccinated individuals.
Edwards is also ordering executive branch state employees to mask up beginning Monday. Now, the Governor and the Louisiana Department of Health are urging people to mask up indoors whether they’re vaccinated or not.
“Conditions are right for catastrophic outcomes for far too many individuals and families,” Edwards said.
The much more contagious Delta Variant is making the rounds. Only 40% of the state’s population has taken at least one shot to protect against the virus and variants.
“We’re ordering 10% of the vaccine doses available to us and yet we have the highest growth rate in cases in the country,” Edwards said. “This surge is on us! How bad it gets, how long it stays bad, how many people ultimately die is on us.”
The Governor stresses vaccines work and pointed out that nursing homes and jails were initially hot spots. Now, there’s little virus circulating after vaccinations.
Edwards acknowledges hospitals and staff are being pushed to the limit for the fourth time this pandemic.
“It’s been a year-and-a-half from hell,” Governor Edwards said.
In fact, there are 6,000 nursing jobs unfilled in Louisiana.
Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s health expert says if vaccinations do not go up, more people will end up in the hospital or dead; despite having a life saving, free vaccine available.
“The mentality we have needs to flip. We’re in a surge. We need to buckle down and do all of the mitigating measures we know work and we know that because it got us out of three previous surges,” Dr. Kanter said.
Beginning Monday, West Jefferson Hospital will also launch drive-thru COVID testing again.
UPDATED GUIDANCE FROM LDH
In light of sharply increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout Louisiana, and as the nation learns more about the transmission dynamics of Delta breakthrough cases, today the Louisiana Department of Health recommends additional layers of protection for all residents, regardless of vaccination status. This updated guidance includes:
- All people – vaccinated and unvaccinated – should wear face masks while indoors if six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.
- All businesses should review their operations to accommodate employees in a way that reduces unnecessary contact to avoid the spread of COVID in the workplace.
- All people should take a COVID test immediately after a known or suspected exposure to COVID-19.
- If positive, they should isolate immediately.
- If negative, they should retest again between five and seven days post-exposure.
- If they develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point they should test and immediately isolate pending the results.
This guidance will remain in place at least until Louisiana is safely out of its fourth COVID-19 surge, with additional guidance and mitigation measures put in place if and when necessary to slow the spread of the more contagious and virulent Delta variant and preserve hospital capacity.
The following guidance from LDH and the CDC has not yet changed:
- At this time CDC advises that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19, and LDH is not yet altering this guidance.
- Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even those who are fully vaccinated or without a known exposure, should get tested.
- Anyone who tests positive should immediately isolate. Isolation (for those who test positive for COVID-19) typically consists of:
- If symptomatic, at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, symptoms are improving, and at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication
- If asymptomatic but with a positive test, 10 days from the time the test sample was collected
Local leaders may implement mitigation measures that are more comprehensive that the current state guidelines should they feel this is best for their communities. In addition, local school boards currently set masking and mitigation policies for their schools.
UPDATES FOR LOUISIANA STATE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES
Under the Governor’s proclamation, heads of state government agencies will be authorized to enact masking procedures and mandates indoors when social distancing is not possible. Starting Monday, June 26, executive branch agencies in the Governor’s cabinet will mandate masks indoors of state buildings when distancing is not possible, for employees and visitors.
In addition, appointing authorities are directed to review their current operations to accommodate employees in a way that reduces unnecessary contact to avoid the spread of COVID in the workplace.
- Click here to view the data from today’s presentation.
- Click here to read the Governor’s updated public health emergency order.
REVIEW OF COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
This list does not include all possible symptoms and the CDC continues to update this list as it learns more about COVID-19. Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes may be to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.