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Gov. Edwards: Louisiana cases increasing but vaccines are on the way

"Louisiana is increasingly looking like its neighbors," he said at a Wednesday press conference updating the pandemic in the state.

NEW ORLEANS — Governor John Bel Edwards is excited about the possibilities from vaccines that should be on the way to the state within two weeks but still extremely concerned about rising numbers in the state.

"Louisiana is increasingly looking like its neighbors," he said at a Wednesday press conference updating the pandemic in the state.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Louisiana’s hospitals continues to grow, intensifying worries that new coronavirus cases from Thanksgiving holiday gatherings will balloon the number further and overwhelm hospitals.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported Wednesday that 1,288 people in Louisiana were hospitalized Wednesday because of COVID-19. That is an increase of more than 200 over the last week or more than double the approximately 600 COVID-19 patients hospitalized a month ago.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients remained below Louisiana’s peak of nearly 2,000 in April during the first of the state’s three coronavirus surges. But they have been steadily and sharply increasing since mid-October.

Edwards said the state would get about 1.4 percent of the first batch of vaccines distributed around the country, which would be about 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first week and another 40,000 the week after. 

The health department said hospitalizations rose by 8 on Wednesday, in addition to reporting 3,604 new cases and 46 new deaths since Tuesday. Wednesday’s report includes a backlog of 1,551 cases with collection dates going back to April.

U.S. health officials have reiterated that staying home for the upcoming winter holidays is the best way to stay safe and protect others from the coronavirus. Many Americans did not follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines against traveling over Thanksgiving. Experts warn that even if few became infected while traveling that they could still result in hundreds of new infections. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.