At Friday’s COVID-19 conference, Gov. Edwards congratulated the Shot At A Million grand prize winner (Photo by Rachel Mipro/Louisiana Illuminator)
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a new vaccination campaign for college students Friday. The first 75,000 college students who get vaccinated at participating higher education institutions will receive a $100 Visa card.
The “Shot for $100” campaign comes in the wake of increasingly dire COVID-19 statistics across the state. Edwards stressed that Louisiana is in a bad place. Officials say that the rate of positive COVID-19 tests in the state is now 16.1% and Louisiana is still leading the nation in growth rates for new COVID-19 cases.
COVID-19 hospitalization rates are now the highest they’ve ever been in Louisiana, with 2,907 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Friday.
“There’s no good news we can pick out from the data right now,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s state health officer.
People who are not vaccinated continue to drive Louisiana’s novel coronavirus outbreak. Those not fully vaccinated made up 90% of all COVID-19 cases from July 29 to Aug. 4, and 83% of COVID-19 deaths during that time frame were people who were not fully vaccinated.
Doctors and other healthcare workers have also said that an increasingly younger demographic is being affected. With students returning to schools and colleges, officials warn that mitigation measures must be taken extremely seriously. Twenty-three percent of all new COVID-19 cases are in people below the age of 18.
Since the fourth COVID-19 surge began last month, hospitals have become increasingly overrun, with too few staff members and too many patients. Fifty-eight hospitals have asked the Louisiana Department of Health for additional staff, an “unprecedented” number of requests, according to Kanter.
Dr. Amanda Logue, chief medical officer at Ochsner Lafayette General said COVID-19 patients currently fill a third of their hospital beds. Patients are experiencing long wait times, sometimes staying in emergency rooms for seven to ten hours waiting for a hospital bed to open up.
“Exhaustion is not even the word that describes it all,” Logue said. “Our space is being filled up and we have no staff to pull from.”
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