The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) estimates the proportion of Omicron cases in our state is 84.6% for the week ending December 18.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the proportion of Omicron in HHS Region 6 (which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) is 92.1%. Additionally, the CDC estimates Omicron represents 73.2% of all cases nationwide.
Limited Louisiana sequence data are available for the most recent reporting period. Estimated proportions are preliminary. LDH will now report the Omicron variant proportion rather than case count. Case-based surveillance for Omicron is no longer sustainable due to the volume of cases being identified. In addition, providing case counts of confirmed and probable cases will provide an inaccurate representation of the amount of Omicron circulating in our state. This is because: 1) probable cases are only able to be identified by one specific PCR assay that picks up the S-gene dropout, 2) not all PCR samples are submitted for sequencing, and 3) many people are tested by rapid antigen or molecular tests, which are not able to be sequenced.
Updated LDH Guidance
Given the fast-spreading Omicron variant, Gov. John Bel Edwards extended Louisiana’s Public Health Emergency Order requiring all state employees, contractors and visitors to wear mask indoors in most state buildings. Additionally, LDH issued revised recommendations and guidance for Louisianans during the holiday season, particularly if they are traveling. These include getting vaccines and boosters, masking indoors - regardless of vaccination status - around people who aren’t in your household and getting tested multiple times - before traveling, before a gathering, and upon returning from traveling.
According to the CDC, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 8 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID compared to a fully vaccinated person.
In addition, any person who has COVID symptoms should get tested and stay in quarantine to avoid spreading illness to others. People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms, including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are widely available at more than 1,000 locations in all of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, including at pharmacies, hospitals, health care clinics and doctor’s offices. For a list of locations near you, visit https://ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish. If you have questions, would like to speak with a medical professional or need help scheduling an appointment, call 211 or Louisiana’s vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774.
As a reminder, all community-based sites operated by the Louisiana National Guard will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.