SHREVEPORT, La. (WGNO) — On Wednesday, August 10, LSU Health Shreveport held a press conference to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Louisiana. Doctors say thousands of positive cases are discovered each day, and people are still dying as a result of the virus.

Vice Chancellor for Research at LSU Health Shreveport, Dr. Chris Kevil, spoke at the event, going into detail on the “significant disease burden” in the state. Several other Doctors and health officials spoke about the prominent variants as well as the new variants of the virus being detected in Louisiana.

Dr. Martha Whyte, Medical Director for the Louisiana Dept. of Health, Region 7, noted that many people are not feeling well, but are calling their symptoms allergies. “I know people [wanna] say it’s just my allergies. Even if you think it may just be your allergies, this is a very contagious virus.”

She continued, “It’s as contagious as measles, which is what we’ve always known as the most contagious virus.” The best way to protect yourself, family, friends, and the community from being infected, is to social distance, wear a mask, and if you aren’t feeling well, stay home.

Doctors are also noting a cause for concern at the moment is the BA5 variant. “We’ve been watching the BA5 variant as it has increased over the past several months,” said Dr. John Vanchiere Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Director of the CEVT, and Director of the LSUHS COVID-19 Strike Team. Dr. Vanchiere explained that although the numbers aren’t as high as the omicron spike in February, the BA5 variant is prominent at this time. Instead of one big spike, the virus is gradually increasing.

The number of positive cases seems to be on a plateau, but Dr. Vanchiere says that may be because the testing numbers are the lowest they have been since June 2020. Although tests may be being taken at home, those numbers aren’t reported to the public health database.

“We think the ratio of the number of tests that are truly positive, is about three times (3x) the numbers that Dr. White cited, at any given time. Because of, again, underreporting due to the rapid tests that are being used,” said Dr. Vanchiere.

Doctors also took the time to answer some questions on the monkeypox virus. See that video below: