NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A once reluctant blues musician and powerful Louisiana Congressman are among those who recently rolled up their sleeves amid rising COVID-19 infections and an urgent attempt to increase the number of people vaccinated in the state.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate said part of his reason for waiting for the vaccination until last Sunday was because he thought he had some immunity because he tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus some time ago became.
Musician Little Freddie King was vaccinated on Wednesday shortly after his 81st birthday. He told the newspaper that he refused, in part because he believed a flu shot had made him sick.
A spike in cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant is behind heightened concerns that led New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell to issue a recommendation this week that people, vaccinated or not, strongly recommend To wear masks indoors when away from an immediate household member.
The New Orleans Public Schools system said that starting Friday, regardless of a person’s vaccination status, masks will be required to be worn in all school buildings.
The state reported 2,843 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 5,388 – the third highest since the pandemic began – on Wednesday. The number of hospital admissions rose sharply last month, from 242 on June 19 to 913 in the latest report. It’s the highest number of hospital admissions since early February, when numbers fell after a winter surge and vaccines became available. 15 new deaths were reported on Thursday.
State Department of Health data shows 36% of the Louisiana population is fully vaccinated. That’s almost 1.7 million people. Only Mississippi and Alabama have lower vaccination rates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are pretty terrifying right now,” Governor John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio broadcast Thursday. Edwards, a Democrat, added, “There is no doubt that we are going in the wrong direction and in a hurry.”
However, there was some evidence that more people were getting the news. The White House on Thursday mentioned Louisiana as one of the hardest hit states where vaccinations are increasing.
Aly Neel, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health, said the state had seen “a small increase” in vaccinations lately, adding that details would be available on Friday. And Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health, said the system had seen a 10-15% increase in people looking for a vaccination in the past week or two.
“Especially with the Delta variant getting a lot more aggressive and seeing further spike, it was a good time to do so,” said Scalise, a Republican who received his first dose of Pfizer on Sunday. “If you talk to people who run hospitals in New Orleans or other states, 90% of the people who are hospitalized with the Delta variant are not vaccinated. This is another signal that the vaccine is working. “
The newspaper reported that King, who turned 81 on Monday, was vaccinated on Wednesday at the behest of “Wacko” Wade Wright, his longtime friend, manager and drummer.
“I chased him to get the shot,” Wright said.
King said he also had some bad experiences with vaccinations, tied a “knot” on his arm as a boy and became very ill as an adult after receiving a flu shot. But, Wright said, with his band playing in crowded music halls again, King agreed to get vaccinated.