A day after Louisiana saw a record-high increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the vaccine will be available to residents 70 years old and older next week.

The immediate reaction to Thursday's announcement was strong enough that state health officials had to remind people that the new doses weren't yet available. The state Department of Health said some hospitals reported seeing people over age 70 showing up, and there were concerns that their doing so could add to the strain on medical workers unable to help them. The vaccines will be available only at select pharmacies.

"We're so encouraged by the energy and the enthusiasm, but we all need to hold put until Monday," Health Department spokeswoman Aly Neel said.

Edwards announced that Louisiana will be receiving "sufficient" doses of the Moderna vaccine next week, which will allow the state to start giving the vaccine to those in the next priority group.

Some frontline health care workers and nursing home residents and staff have already received the vaccine. Those people are included in the 1A group of the vaccine plan.

The additional vaccine doses will allow the state to begin vaccinating more people in the 1B group, which includes ambulatory and outpatient health care workers and people 70 years old and older. 

Edwards emphasized that vaccine doses for those in the 1B group are limited for now and will be available only at select pharmacies by appointment.

The next vaccine priority group will be essential workers, like teachers and grocery store workers.

Louisiana reported 4,261 more confirmed cases on Wednesday. Including probable cases as determined by an antigen test, the state reported a total of 6,754 cases Wednesday. That's the highest single-day increase in confirmed cases since the pandemic hit the state in March.

The Louisiana Department of Health reports new coronavirus data every weekday and Sunday at noon. There has only been one report with a higher case growth number than Wednesday, but that was the day after Thanksgiving when the data reflected two days.

The state also saw a triple digit increase in hospitalizations on Tuesday. The number grew again on Wednesday to 1,717 hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Louisiana hasn't seen that high of a number since April.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

Watch and follow the governor's press conference below. Can't see the module? Click here.


Email Emma Discher at EDischer@TheAdvocate.com or follow her on Twitter, @EmmaDischer.