BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards says an end to the statewide mask mandate could be in sight.

At his weekly briefing Thursday on the state’s response to COVID-19, the governor said that decision will depend on the data – but that we should know next week.

“Well, nothing is off the table until I receive the briefing and get recommendations and make a decision,” Gov. Edwards said.

State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter noted during the briefing that two key indicators are going in the wrong direction, however. Percent positivity is up in eight out of the state’s nine Louisiana Department of Health regions, and the UK variant of the coronavirus has now been detected in all but one parish.

Kanter also said that as of Thursday 28 percent of all the vaccine administered in Louisiana has been administered to black Louisianans.

“That number, that 28 percent has been steadily increasing every week since we started counting it which is encouraging and really the result of hard work.”

Edwards also shared more details about plans to ramp up the statewide “Bring Back Louisiana” vaccination campaign previously announced in March. The campaign will officially kick off Friday with vaccination events in all nine public health regions of the state.

“We are trying very hard to meet people where they are and this is especially important once you get to a point where the demand no longer exceeds supply,” Edwards said.

“We want to make it as easy as convenient as it can possibly for people to be vaccinated.”

As of Thursday’s latest update from the Louisiana Department of Health, more than 1.15 million vaccine series had been completed statewide and another 1.45 million have been initiated, for a total of 2,522,672 million doses administered to date.

Regionally, the New Orleans area (Region 1) has the highest percentage of population vaccinated, with 31.26%, followed by Baton Rouge (Region 2) with 26.51%. Northwest Louisiana (Region 7) has 21.23% of its population vaccinated, according to LDH. The Monroe area (Region 8) has just a slightly higher vaccination rate at 21.36%.

The LDH reported 615 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and eight new deaths. The latest data brings the total confirmed cases in the state to 455,000 and 10,324 related deaths.