BR.vaxlottery.061821 HS 1123.JPG

Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference after announcing 2.3M in cash prizes and scholarships during the "Shot at a Million" campaign to get residents of the state of Louisiana vaccinated against Coronavirus, Thursday, June 17, 2021, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.

Gov. John Bel Edwards kicked off his monthly call-in radio show just as Louisiana's House neared a vote on overriding his veto of a ban on transgender children competing in sports.

The House failed to override his veto. They were two votes short. Several hours later, both chambers adjourned without success. 

Edwards reacted to the news in real time.

"Obviously no governor wants to have a veto session, but at the end of the day, I didn't veto any bills that I thought were in the best interest of the state of Louisiana," Edwards said. "There were serious issues with just a number of bills."

The Democrat governor vetoed 28 bills passed by the GOP-dominated Legislature. None were overridden. 

“There is no problem to be solved, on the one hand,” Edwards said of the transgender ban, Senate Bill 156. “On the other hand, we’ve been told by the NCAA and others that we put ourselves at serious risk of losing championship events like the Final Four.”

But Edwards’ monthly Ask The Governor call-in show didn’t spend too much time on the veto session.

"One of the things that I regret most about this week is that the conversation is not about COVID right now," Edwards said. "I am very concerned about where we are."

Louisiana is in its fourth surge of COVID-19, fueled by the highly-contagious delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rates.

Much of the program featured Dr. Katherine Baumgartner, an infectious disease specialist at Ochsner Health, who said she’s concerned about unvaccinated residents.

The scoop on state politics in your inbox

Get the Louisiana politics insider details once a week from us. Sign up today.

“Maybe they haven’t had the time or opportunity,” Baumgartner said, adding that Ochsner is making vaccinations available at malls, airports and churches, as well as at mobile units and buses. “We’re trying to do everything we can to make the vaccine easily accessible to the residents of Louisiana.”

“It’s really important to do what we can to prevent people from getting sick, to prevent people from dying,” Baumgarten said.

Baumgarten said there’s currently a young mother in the ICU at Ochsner. Her husband was reluctant to get the vaccine, but one of the nurses told him: “You need to be around for your kids. Both of you need to be here to care for your children.” He ended up taking the vaccine.

“Each one of these vaccines is important,” Baumgarten said.

Edwards said its important that every doctor-patient interaction here on out include discussion of COVID-19.  

“I don’t care if you’re getting a blister checked on, or you’re getting admitted to the hospital,” Edwards said. “We need every doctor-patient encounter to include a conversation about the vaccine.”

Baumgarten said that doctors and nurses at Ochsner Health are becoming “stretched” by the surge in patients.

Statewide, hospitalizations rose to 811 patients Wednesday, a four-fold increase from a month ago.

The Louisiana Department of Health also reported 5,388 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, the third largest batch of new infections since the pandemic began more than sixteen months ago.

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