BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Tis the season for joy, family, and COVID-19 precautions.

“We do know that Omicron is circulating in our community,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Ochsner Health.

Thousands of people in Louisiana are ending the year testing positive for COVID-19.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, specialized testing shows most people in the state who are testing positive have the Omicron variant. Hundreds of cases have been reported in the New Orleans area by local health officials. According to LDH’s latest update, Baton Rouge has just three confirmed Omicron cases.

“We have seen 2 percent sequence positive to 32 percent sequence positive in only a week,” said Baumgarten.

At Ochsner, more patients are being admitted but not so many that it’s another surge just yet.

“We had 78 people hospitalized as of today and for reference, we had 51 hospitalized one week ago,” said Baumgarten.

Researchers are working to get more information about Omicron, right now symptoms for Delta and Omicron look the same.

The federal government plans to supply 500 million tests starting in January. A website will be provided which will ship at-home testing kits to your doorsteps.

“We encourage you to use at-home tests if they are available or to seek those for your family and friends rather than going into urgent care or any emergency department,” said Dawn Pevey-Mauk, CEO, System Centers of Excellence & Service Lines for Ochsner Health.

Dr. Katherine Baumgarten said it is crucial how you plan on gathering during the holidays.

“It’s a good idea to test. Get vaccinated and then in indoor gatherings wear a mask if you’re in a larger sort of group. It’s always good to have ventilation,” she said.

Dr. Baumgarten said don’t wait for a newly formulated COVID-19 booster because that can take months. She said all vaccines are proven to fight against variants.

If you do have a breakthrough case, the symptoms should be mild and your chance of hospitalization is lower. 

Information on COVID-19 vaccines is available here.