BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Governor John Bel Edwards held a media briefing on the state’s response to COVID-19 Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Edwards said the state is starting 2022 in a challenging place as COVID-19 surges. He said Omicron has rapidly taken over as the dominant variant, with the state health department reporting 14,077 cases.

Edwards said virtually 100% of COVID-19 cases in the state are from Omicron. He said while the transmission is at an all-time high, symptoms are milder.

In December, almost 79,684 Louisianans received their first COVID-19 shot and 277,549 got their booster, according to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said the state hasn’t had so much COVID-19 spread and at such a fast rate. He said there’s no sign of it slowing anytime soon.

Kanter asks people to avoid the emergency room to get tested for COVID-19. He said the state is working to get more tests available to the public. Anyone experiencing symptoms should assume to be positive and isolate.

Anyone in need of testing can visit ldh.la.gov/covidtesting or dial 211 to find a testing site.

The leading group testing positive is 18-29-year-olds.

LDH reports 1,412 hospitalizations in the state and urges residents to get vaccinated and boosted to avoid hospitalization.

Facts about Omicron from LDH:

  • More transmissible than other coronavirus strains
  • Dominant strain in U.S. and Louisiana
  • All 50 states and at least 89 countries have cases of Omicron
  • Omicron may be less virulent than othe strains according to early evidence, but more data is needed
  • Unvaccinated individuals are at greatest risk of severe outcomes
  • Best available protection from severe outcomes is getting vaccinated and boosted, if eligible

LDH Masking Guidance

Kanter suggests people use N95, KN95or KF94 masks. He said they’re more available for purchase now compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

CDC Booster Guidance

  • Pfizer booster 5 months after 2nd shot
  • Pfizer booster shot for ages 12-17, 5 months after initial series
  • Moderately/severely immunocompromised children ages 5-11 receive additional primary dose of vaccine 28 days after completing 2nd initial series vaccination