BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is making changes to its COVID-19 reports. They say the state is in a “different stage” of the pandemic.

After more than two years of navigating COVID-19, local health leaders say Louisiana has come a long way.

“We had over 173 patients in the hospital this time last year, and a number of them were in ICU. They currently only have one in three patients in the hospital and none of them in the ICU,” said Dr. Jeffrey Littleton, Baton Rouge General, Chief of Staff.

Glennis Gray, LDH’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, agreed, saying, “They’re making an extra effort to get vaccinated on both accounts, not only with the COVID vaccine, but the flu vaccine as well.”

As of this week, LDH will begin reporting COVID statistics once a week instead of on a daily basis.

Gray said, “Start weekly reporting tomorrow and on Wednesdays thereafter. And then we’re going to just continue your reporting on hospital resources or bed availability, just because those numbers are so low and it is a required daily report.”

As of Friday, 277 new COVID-19 cases were reported to the state.

In addition to this, 173 people are on ventilators and 71 of the new cases reported are re-infections.

Health officials say Louisiana is in a different stage of COVID, but the fight against the virus remains ongoing.

“It’s important to remember that COVID is not kind of off the table, COVID is still very serious. It’s always a good idea to wear a mask. Continue all of your hand-washing,” Gray explained. “The vaccinations should be up to date.”

LDH says anyone without a provider or insurance can be tested at their local Parish health unit or community clinic.

Health officials are strongly encouraging everyone to get their vaccines and flu shots.