WATCH: LDH officials discuss Omicron variant, ask people to wear masks to curb transmission

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — On Monday, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) officials discussed the Omicron variant as holiday celebrations and travel kick into full gear. They are urging Louisianans to get their boosters and wear face masks indoors.

State Epidemiologist Theresa Sokol said if Omicron already isn’t, it is expected to be the dominant variant soon. She said COVID-19 transmission is starting to take a sharp increase, along with an uptick in hospitalizations.

“CDC estimates that Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States and in Louisiana’s region,” said State Epidemiologist Theresa Sokol. “It is startling how quickly this happened, but it is not surprising.”

Statewide percent positivity increased from 2.2% last week to 3.3% this week, according to LDH.

Sokol urges people to take precautions while gathering for the holidays and to get vaccinated. She said getting boosters should be a priority and people shouldn’t wait to make an appointment until after the holidays.

To find a location administering COVID-19 vaccines, visit ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine or call 211.

Sokol said Louisianans need to be masking indoors regardless of vaccination status to reduce transmission. She’s recommending small gatherings and suggests hosting events outdoors to prevent another COVID-19 surge.

Our Lady of the Lake Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine O’Neal said she is starting to see signs of another potential surge. She’s asking the community to do their part in reducing transmission by wearing face masks and testing as families get together for the holidays.

As for flu cases, there has been an uptick but is “okay,” according to Dr. O’Neal. She said people should be getting their flu shots.

Health guidance from LDH:

  • To protect yourself, get vaccinated and, if eligible, get boosted.
  • To reduce transmission, regardless of vaccination status, mask indoors when not with your everyday household.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, get tested multiple times. 

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