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City of Ruston won’t mandate COVID shots

Parish vaccination rate climbs, but cases, deaths do as well
Thursday, September 9, 2021
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The city of Ruston will not mandate that its employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations, but it is looking at ways to encourage unvaccinated workers to get the shot, Mayor Ronny Walker said Wednesday.

Walker said officials are still researching incentives that might be offered. He said he thinks about half of Ruston’s approximately 300 workers are vaccinated.

Last week, Grambling’s city council passed a mandate requiring all city workers to be vaccinated by Nov. 15.

The mandate makes allowances for workers who have pre-existing medical conditions and those with verifiable religious objections that deter them from receiving the vaccine.

So far, Grambling is the only Lincoln Parish municipality requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

Data from the Louisiana Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control show as of Wednesday, approximately 34% of eligible Lincoln Parish residents are now fully vaccinated. That’s about a 1% increase since mid-August.

The health agencies’ online data shows 15,920 fully vaccinated residents and another 18,436 who’ve had at least one dose of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Statewide, about 42% of eligible Louisianans were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday.

But despite the vaccination uptick, confirmed local COVID cases and deaths continue to increase.

Since Friday, the parish has recorded an additional 63 positive cases for a total of 4,287 cases since the count began in March 2020. The parish’s seven-day new confirmed case average is approximately 14 cases per day, LDH statistics show.

Confirmed COVID deaths have also increased by one; the toll is now 95. Deaths probably linked to COVID-19 have also gone up by one and now stand at 11.

The confirmed deaths have escalated by five since Aug. 17.

Statewide, the pandemic death toll hit 12,915 Wednesday, with 136 of those deaths added overnight since Tuesday, according to LDH.

Overall, though the state had seen some progress in its fight against the current fourth surge of COVID-19, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a Tuesday press conference that officials are concerned that could be lost because of the activities involved in the Hurricane Ida recovery where people are bunched closer together, even outside.

Edwards said he “strongly believes” current numbers of COVID cases are underreported because of the hurricane. He urged people not to forget the state remains in a health crisis.

“We are still in very much in a pandemic. We are still very much in the fourth surge,” he said.