Coronavirus COVID-19 computer generated image. (Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE – After the Wednesday veto override session ended without any bills being overridden, Gov. John Bel Edwards emphasized the need for both parties to come together and address the COVID-19 pandemic.
At his 5 p.m. meeting addressing the session, Edwards said the surge in COVID-19 cases is the most pressing issue Louisiana is currently facing, with the state adding 5,388 COVID-19 cases in one day, the third highest spike since the pandemic started.
“Now if there was one cause that we ought to all get behind and make sure that we’re pushing, it is to make sure we’re controlling this pandemic,” Edwards said. “Is to limit the people who are getting infected, going to the hospital and dying. Unfortunately that’s been squeezed out of the conversation as well here in Louisiana.”
According to data from the Louisiana Department of Health, officials counted 13 new deaths Wednesday. Also, 844 COVID-19 patients are in Louisiana hospitals, and 64 of them are on ventilators. One week ago, the state reported 1,936 new COVID-19 cases, 10 new deaths, 468 COVID-19 patients hospitalized and 40 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
In New Orleans Wednesday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced an indoor mask advisory, and New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said, “The alarming transmission data we’ve seen in the last two weeks, coupled with an inadequate vaccination rate, leaves us no choice. People who continue to refuse to take the lifesaving COVID vaccine are now also putting the entire community in jeopardy. We must take action now to slow the rapid spread of the Delta variant.”
During the unprecedented veto-override session, lawmakers did not bring up the three bills addressing COVID-19 vaccinations that the governor had vetoed.
House Bill 103, sponsored by Rep. Danny McCormick (R-Oil City), would have made any institution that required vaccination for entry liable for all civic damages for injury or death resulting from or relating to the vaccination.
House Bill 349, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Edmonston (R-Gonzales), sought to prohibit the Department of Public Safety and Corrections Office of Motor Vehicles from making the issuance, renewal, or revocation of a state-issued special identification card contingent on vaccination verification or immunity status.
House Bill 498, also sponsored by Rep. Kathy Edmonston, would have prevented a government agency or authority from distinguishing between people based on COVID-19 vaccination status until the COVID-19 vaccination in question has been approved by the secretary of the United States Food and Drug Administration.
There appears to be a new effort among leading Republicans to promote vaccinations and not discourage people from inoculating themselves against the virus and its multiple variations. U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (from Jefferson) got vaccinated Sunday, months after he became eligible for vaccination.
When asked why he had waited so long, Scalise told The Advocate, “Especially with the Delta variant becoming a lot more aggressive and seeing another spike, it was a good time to do it. When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospital with Delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works.”
After lawmakers failed to override his vetoes, Edwards urged unity in the fight against COVID-19.
“We have to come together no matter how we voted on these veto overrides this week. We’ve got to come together and do what we can to prevent what is happening,” Edwards said.
Edwards also emphasized the importance of vaccination.
“These are life-saving vaccines. And there are, unfortunately, no good therapeutics after you get it and become very sick,” Edwards said. “This is our shot now. And know that 94% of the people contracting covid are unvaccinated. That should tell you all that you need to know.”
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