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As COVID cases surge statewide, so do vaccinations

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BATON ROUGE- The state is continuing to see a record number of COVID hospitalizations but also a still growing demand for vaccinations.

With 37 percent of Louisiana vaccinated, many who haven't received the shot are just like Denise Harris.

"I was scared ever since COVID started. I didn't want the vaccine. It was just from the myths, the stories and the side effects I thought would come from the vaccine," Harris said.

Harris is a nutritional care supervisor at Baton Rouge General Mid City. Having worked for BRG for over 10 years, she depended on her faith to protect her from COVID.

"God will cover me, and that was my biggest thing," Harris said.

Until one day she felt a change of heart.

"It kind of stopped me in a conversation, like 'Denise how are you having faith if you won't have faith in taking a shot and knowing he's going cover you either way it goes?'" Harris said.

But it's deeper than that. Working at BRG, Harris sees the loss from COVID every day and has experienced it in her personal life. She decided that as a mother of four she has a responsibility to her family.

"If mom hasn't taken the COVID shot, why should they? So I have to set the tone for my kids," Harris explained. "For my coworkers that haven't taken it... Because we're aren't winning out here. The stats show we aren't winning."

Friday, with tears rolling down her face, Harris got the shot and shared her experience on Facebook. This week, BRG saw a 5-percent increase in health care workers getting vaccinated. As more health workers are getting their shots, businesses and restaurants like Bistro Byronz are doing everything they can to encourage staffers to do the same.

"A few weeks recently, to give an extra push for employees who maybe weren't able to get off sight to get them, we had a company do them at our location," owner of Bistro Byronz Emelie Alton said.

Alton tells WBRZ her staff is more than 60-percent vaccinated, and they are doing everything they can to increase that.

"We have definitely had conversations about any opportunities and incentives that have come up. It's not anything we have put into place. It'll continue to be something we consider going forward as we get to that last push," Alton said.

They say their priority is to be good stewards of the community and end the pandemic.

"We feel that the more people who are vaccinated in our building, the safer we are as team members and the safer our guests will be," Alton said.

As businesses across the nation are requiring vaccines, Alton says it's not off the table and is still an open topic of discussion.

"We may find that in near the future we have vaccinations as something that's mandatory or tests that are mandatory. Anything to encourage vaccinations to keep our environment safe and do the best thing for the community," Alton said.

Governor Edwards says that vaccinations have increased so much in the state that they have had to increase the orders of doses.

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