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Louisiana governor says vaccine misinformation is 'literally costing lives'

"I am calling on people to not spread misinformation," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
Credit: AP
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announces toughened coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. The state is seeing its third spike in virus cases since the pandemic began. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday that he is frustrated that COVID-19 is once again surging in the state, causing new cases and hospitalizations to rise quickly in recent weeks.

Although 50 percent of adults in the state have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Edwards said that vaccination rates remain "woefully inadequate."

"That's not high enough. There's not enough immunity across the state, in the various communities that comprise our state, to ward off transmission," Edwards said.

Edwards said the number of new cases diagnosed in the state has been steadily increasing since June 16. Specifically, in the last two weeks, Edwards said that cases have increased by 167 percent. In that same time period, hospitalizations also surged. As of Thursday, there were 245 more COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals than two weeks ago.

"Over the last two, three weeks, we have lost more than four months of progress in our hospitalization numbers," Edwards said.

The percentage of tests returning as positive is at 6.3% - almost three times higher than where it was in recent weeks, Edwards said.

"We know the delta variant is more transmissible, and it also has the potential to make those who contract is much sicker," the governor said.

He added that people who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 should not feel that they are protected from the virus.

"We have seen individuals in Louisiana who have now contracted COVID on three separate occasions," Edwards said.

The governor said that 97 percent of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 since February are individuals who are not vaccinated. However, Edwards said that misinformation about the vaccines slowing the rate of immunizations and "literally costing lives."

"I am calling on people to not spread misinformation," Edwards said.

The delta variant is now the dominant strain in Louisiana, and officials say it's responsible for an uptick in cases recently. Earlier this week, the state saw nearly 2,000 new cases of coronavirus reported, which is the highest single-day increase since early February. 

While vaccinations are now freely available to everybody 12 and up, Louisiana continues to lag behind the national average for vaccination rates. 

About 48% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with 56% of eligible people in the country having received at least one shot.

National health leaders continue to stress that the vaccines currently available are effective against the delta variant and are the country's best way to prevent another wave of the pandemic. 

Health experts say a 70% vaccination rate is needed to stamp out the virus in any given area.

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