After talking about an historic veto override session that ended after only two days, Gov. John Bel Edwards turned his attention to another matter — one he said should be “the No. 1 issue in the state of Louisiana.”
“We’re in our fourth surge, and it is real,” Edwards told reporters in an unscheduled press conference Wednesday, the same day the state tallied one of its highest totals of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases to date.
New COVID-19 cases continued to surge in Louisiana on Wednesday, when the Louisiana Department of Health confirmed 3,264 new cases — the most in one day since Jan. 12, when the state was in the midst of its winter surge — in addition to 2,124 “probable” cases.
The 5,388 suspected cases was the third-most in a day since the pandemic began, prompting another plea from Edwards to urge more people to get vaccinated.
One day later on Thursday, COVID-19 hospitalizations rose to 913 statewide, the most since Feb. 12. Since falling to 259 on July 2, hospitalizations have risen by 654, or just over 31 per day.
While speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the unsuccessful veto override session Wednesday, Edwards lamented the fact that the pandemic had been “squeezed out of the conversation.”
“If there was one cause that we all ought to get behind and make sure we’re pushing, it is to control this pandemic, to limit the people who are getting infected, going to the hospital, and dying,” he said. “Unfortunately that’s been squeezed out of the conversation as well here in Louisiana. Well I am putting it back front and center.
“As of right now, that is the No. 1 issue in the state of Louisiana… We have to come together and do what we can to prevent what is happening.”
When asked by a reporter if he plans to implement any COVID-19 restrictions to get the virus under control, Edwards said he would present more information during a press conference scheduled for Friday.
“What you can expect is I’ll tell you Friday what to expect,” Edwards said.
Edwards said at least 93 percent of the cases “are preventable,” saying they come from those who are not vaccinated. Before the end of the press conference, he made one final plea to residents to get vaccinated.
“Like it or not, we are in our fourth surge,” he said later. “The numbers are not good. I am very very troubled. I actually lost my breath [Wednesday] when that daily update came to me. So we have some work to do.”