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Next few months 'critical' as COVID-19 vaccines roll out

“Especially over the next few months it’s going to be critically important that people embrace these mitigation measures,” said Edwards.

NEW ORLEANS — While a coronavirus vaccine may be on the way, there’s still a lot of concern before doses start showing up.   

“The numbers in Louisiana have not been encouraging. They are all trending in the wrong direction,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards during a news conference Wednesday.

As Louisiana deals with a third coronavirus surge,  Edwards says he’s confident a vaccine expected to arrive in Louisiana by mid-December will be a game changer, but the current game plan must stay in place.

“Especially over the next few months it’s going to be critically important that people embrace these mitigation measures,” said Edwards.

Numbers from the state department of health show big increases in news cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Forty six new deaths were reported Wednesday, the highest daily number of deaths since early September. Hospitalizations doubled during the month of November, now standing at 1,288. According to the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, 91 percent of all parishes in Louisiana have moderate or high levels of community transmission. Jefferson Parish leads the state in new cases over the last three weeks.

“It obviously poses a severe threat to the health care system,” said Edwards.

One hospital on the Northshore is already self-imposing a move to make sure resources are available as the surge grows. All inpatient elective procedures are being rescheduled at St. Tammany Health System.

 “This is the right thing for our patients, the right thing for the community and the right thing for our medical staff right now,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Torcson.

Torcson says even with an expected vaccine, personal responsibility remains.

“Having an effective vaccine is no substitute for the basic blocking and tackling of masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene,” said Torcson.

Edwards hopes those guidelines will help slow the surge as folks wait to be vaccinated.  

“There really is light at the end of the tunnel. We have to double down on the things that we know work,” said Edwards. 

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