Governor Edwards held a press briefing on the state's COVID-19 response as cases continues to surge in Louisiana.
Edwards began by saying that he suspects that everyone in the state has had COVID, has it now or knows someone who does. The Omicron variant, he says, has had a direct impact on the state.
Omicron has rapidly taken over as the dominant variant in the state and country. Edwards went over the numbers in the state, which you can read here.
Emergency department visits remains at an all time high, he said. Reinfections he says are being seen more because of omicron. There were 563 reinfections in November and 11,278 in December 2021.
These increases are due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant. It spreads faster and natural immunity doesn't seem to hold up against omicron, he says.
Omicron as of January 1, 2022, is 90.2% and is higher today in Louisiana, he said. CDC reports in the region is about 98.2 percent. Increased transmission is bringing a high percent positivity which is now at 27.1 percent.
In response to the surge, Edwards says that the CDC has updated their guidance.
The good points, Edwards says is that Omicron is less virulent and fewer people will need medical attention and need a long hospital stay. The challenge he says, that if many more people are being infected like we are seeing, more stress is being put on the medical system in the state.
Nurses and doctors are not at work because they too have omicron and other COVID variants. "We are still going to have strokes heart attacks and vehicle accidents," he said.
Almost 80,000 people in December received their first vaccination, Edwards said, another positive for the state.
Current vaccines, he says, do protect against severe illness and death, he added. Edwards says that those who can get vaccinated, do so and if you are eligible to get boosted to do so.
Dr. Joseph Kanter says that the surge is not the way he wanted to see 2022 start. he says that with the data now, it does not appear that there is any slow down coming in the near future. "It continues to go up at a very sharp pace."
We have to be cognizant to not overburden ERs. If you need a test, go to another place other than an ER. Kanter says that a national shortage of take home tests due to the higher demand for them. The state is working to get more tests. PCR tests are not seeing a shortage, he says.
Dialing 211 can help those interested find a place to get tested. You can also find a location at the LDH website.
If someone can't find a test, Dr. Kanter says that the person should isolate if they have symptoms as it is the safest thing to do.
With Omicron, 63 of 64 parishes are at the high risk mark. Meaning the risk of contracting COVID is as high as it has ever been before.
Kanter says a trend showing 18 through 29-year-olds are seeing an increase in COVID tests. That then spreads to older and younger age groups. "We should expect to see the shift to younger individuals as school starts up again."
Discussing Omicron, Kanter says that it is more transmissible and it is by far the dominant variant in the state, region and nationwide. It does appear to be less virulent and the patients being seen are less sick than like those with Delta. People who are not vaccinated are at the greatest risk from the virus. the best protection is to get vaccinated and boosted.
For masking, the more layers the better. Kanter says that masks are used to protect others from the wearer. "Cloth masks still perform well, what they don't do as well, is provide strong protection from the wearing. An N95 or KN95 is much better," he said.
Masks can be found online, and provide the most protection.
As far as new guidance, Dr. Kanter says the CDC recommends that those who have received the Pfizer vaccine get a booster dose at 5 months. Everyone age 12 and up should get boosted if eligible. "They are safe and greatly increase your protection against COVID."
People 5 to 11 years old and immuno-suppressed they are recommenced to get a third dose of vaccines. He says those individuals should speak with their doctors.
"You do not want to get COVID if you have any choice in the matter," Kanter says. When we surge, we have to take added precautions like masking and distancing. This is not forever, we are talking about a few weeks."
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
To reach the newsroom or report a typo/correction, click HERE.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Evening News Headlines, Latest COVID-19 Headlines, Morning News Headlines, Special Offers