The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital is below 500 for the first time since the early days of the pandemic. State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter says the continuing decline in hospitalizations is proof that vaccines work.

“The strategy of pushing vaccines initially to the people, who shown by the evidence to be more vulnerable, more likely to suffer complications if infected, is working,” said Kanter.

The state began receiving vaccines in December and they were first given to those working directly with COVID patients and then to residents 70 and older because seniors are more at risk from the virus.

Kanter said more people have been vaccinated now than reported cases of COVID in the state.

“If anyone is looking for proof that these vaccines not only work but are our ticket out of this pandemic, this is it,” said Kanter.

The state will receive 5,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week after not receiving any the last two weeks due to manufacturing issues. Kanter said they hope we will soon see weekly allotments closer to 38,000.

“This will be a very, very small amount. What we have been told by Operation Warp Speed and the White House is to expect the Johnson & Johnson numbers to pick up substantially by the end of March,” said Kanter.

Kanter said when the state begins receiving more of the J & J vaccine, they will begin mass vaccination events again.

“And I think people can really see what the other side of this looks like. I think every step of the way now, life gets better,” said Kanter.

 (Story written by Brooke Thorington/Louisiana Radio Network)

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