Louisiana officials working through ‘tremendously complex’ process of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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Louisiana officials expect to receive about the same number of COVID-19 vaccines next week as they did this week while they work through the “tremendously complex” logistics of distribution, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday.

“There’s nothing easy about this process,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Louisiana again set records Wednesday for most COVID-19 cases reported in a day and the number of COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized. Louisiana is ranked 23rd in the nation for cases per capita.

State officials expect to get 55,775 COVID-19 vaccine doses next week, Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said. Like last week, only 8,800 doses will be available to members of the general public who are age 70 or older, though some hospitals, which were the first to get vaccines for their workers, are beginning to vaccinate eligible members of their communities.

By the end of next week, officials expect to have received a total of 293,525 doses, 93,000 of which will have been diverted to long-term care facilities, Kanter said.

State officials hope to be able to distribute additional doses to the 107 pharmacies that had them this week, but they are not sure whether that will be the case because they also want to expand access to clinics and pharmacies in the 13 parishes that haven’t gotten any doses, Kanter said. He said at least 146 doses have been wasted, 120 of which were stored in a Baton Rouge facility that lost power last weekend.

Edwards said the state will use the National Guard to host “mass vaccination” events when the federal government makes enough doses available. He said the distribution process will be refined as it moves along.

“No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy,” said Edwards, a former Army Ranger.

Louisiana reported 6,882 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 46 new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 7,681. There were 1,993 patients in hospitals, one more than the previous record.

As he often does, Edwards urged residents to be more vigilant about practicing COVID-19 mitigation tactics, which include covering your mouth and nose in public, avoiding crowds and keeping your distance from people who don’t live in your household. He said the full effect of gatherings held during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays still may not have shown up in the numbers.

Asked if he would implement additional restrictions on top of the current modified Phase 2 guidelines, Edwards said he would consider doing so when the current order expires next week. He added, however, tighter restrictions might not matter to people who already aren’t following the rules, and the state doesn’t have the ability to force people to comply.

“We’re not going to enforce our way out of this,” Edwards said. “We’re either going to do the right thing or we’re not.”





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