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First Lady Donna Edwards, left, and Governor John Bel Edwards unveil a giant check as it is announced that Louisiana will participate in a lottery, giving cash prizes and scholarships to residents who have been vaccinated against coronavirus.

Another grim milestone, more than 600,000 Americans are known to have died from COVID-19 and its often gruesome medical complications.

Even survivors may suffer greatly for years from severe cases.

And those severe cases are going to come from the large population of people, like many of our neighbors in Louisiana, who are not yet vaccinated.

The count of deaths is from an analysis in The New York Times. “It’s a tragedy,” Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center, told the Times. “A lot of that tragedy was avoidable, and it’s still happening.”

That warning has been echoed by months by experts and medical professionals in our own state. Because the most recent 100,000 deaths in this country came more slowly, over four months, the erroneous perception is that our problems are over.

We cannot help but worry that many more will suffer or die for failure to get the free shots of the several highly effective vaccines. Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Lottery Corp. are trying to give incentives via a raffle of sorts, for those getting vaccinated. On the famous Bourbon Street in New Orleans, some businesses have offered “shots for a shot” promotions.

Louisiana’s rural parishes are among those with low vaccination rates. Small-town Louisiana faces many challenges but the decay of rural communities will be accelerated if the public does not take advantage of vaccines.

We urge statewide businesses to encourage their employees to take their shots. The state will benefit from it.

Whatever it takes.