LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – As Louisiana continues its fight against COVID-19, the highly transmissible Omicron variant is quickly making its way across the state.

The rise in hospitalizations have brought the total number of patients to 449, a figure that has doubled in the last week.

“Anytime this many people get infected this quickly, there are so many down stream consequences of that,” says Dr. Britni Hebert.

The last time this many COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported was mid-October just as the state was slowly coming off the fourth surge.

“Hospitals were already pretty full going into this. We don’t have the capacity to absorb more,” explains Dr. Hebert.

The Department of Health says this Omicron surge further emphasizes the importance of vaccinations. Currently, 80% of patients hospitalized are not fully vaccinated.

“Patients with severe COVID stay in hospitals for weeks upon months until they are at the end of their healing,” Dr. Hebert continues.

Vaccines are expected to protect against hospitalizations and severe illnesses, but the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) warns breakthrough infections are still possible.

“The original vaccines series protection is about 30%. The booster bumps that up to 70-80%,” Dr. Hebert adds.

Taking into consideration the rapidly changing surge and holidays, the department of health is urging all residents to:

• mask in all indoor public spaces and or when social distancing is not an option.

• limit exposure to individuals outside your everyday household.

• get tested before and after traveling or gatherings.

LDH recommends testing one to two days before travel and three to five days after travel.

Dr. Hebert says, “If you do those things and accept it is time to do those things, you can skate through this without coming ill.”