BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Citing concerns about the spread of the more transmissible UK variant of COVID-19 and Fat Tuesday coming up next week, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday the Phase 2 coronavirus restrictions set to expire Wednesday will be extended another 21 days, along with the statewide mask mandate.
Edwards said the data have shown improvement over the last month or so, including dropping positivity rates and hospitalizations, but the numbers remain at levels higher than they were during the surge over the summer.
Edwards received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Our Lady of the Lake and Pennington Biomedical Research Center, where he also announced the first mass vaccination site in Baton Rouge on Pennington’s campus.
Along with governor Edwards Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Workforce Commission Secretary Ava DeJoie, Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, and Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters, all received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as well.
Created by the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act (Louisiana Disaster Act), the UCG is the strategic decision-making body for emergency and disaster response in the state with the governor serving as the unified commander. Members of the UCG were added to the expanded list of people eligible to receive the vaccine as of Monday, along with those 65 and older, some elections staff ahead of March elections, and additional state and local COVID emergency response personnel.
The state remains in the Phase 1B, Tier 1 phase of distribution, which already included health care employees; EMS workers; firefighters; people with kidney failure; people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based services and their providers; and people who live and work at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Watch the governors full coronavirus briefing below.
The latest data from the Louisiana Department of Health show that just over 448,000 first doses of the vaccine have been administrated statewide, with 189,000 people completing the two-dose inoculation. As of Monday, the governor’s office says nearly 1.2 million Louisianans were eligible to get the COVID vaccine. The governor and State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter are expected to have updated numbers Tuesday about doses that have been administered since last week.
“The number of first doses administered in the state (448,122) now exceeds the number of reported COVID-19 cases (414,354) since the first case was reported 11 months ago,” the LDH noted in a Facebook post shared early Tuesday afternoon.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,321 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and 20 new deaths, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 412,989 and deaths to 9,142. Of the new cases reported since Monday, the LDH says 806 are confirmed and 515 are probable.