(KLFY) — Months removed from the state’s fourth COVID surge, Louisiana is again seeing growing numbers in cases.

81% of parishes are now at “substantial” or “high” risk for the virus spreading in their communities.

Dr. Rebecca Curran with Our Lady of Lourdes explains, “With Delta and Omicron, the virus binds better to people and higher up in their bodies. It binds easily to nose and throat.”

The growing fifth wave comes as Omicron is now deemed the dominant variant in the country, just weeks after it was first detected in the U.S.

“Omicron appears to be much tougher to fight and faster to spread,” Dr. Curran adds.

The majority of cases are among younger age groups:

  • 21% of cases are among children ages 17 and younger
  • 23% of cases account for ages 18-29
  • 20% of cases are ages 30-39

Dr. Curran continues, “Unfortunately, it is easy to spread without even knowing something is wrong. With these variants, it just keeps getting worse.”

Louisiana remains one of the lowest vaccinated states against coronavirus, with a vaccination rate that sits just under 50%.

“A focus on vaccines is a focus on prevention,” says Curran.

Regardless of vaccination status, health officials urge masking up in large groups and getting tested regularly.

Dr. Curran adds, “We are much better equipped to fight Omicron than where we were two years ago.”