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COVID-19 cases on the downswing, next few weeks critical in making sure it stays that way

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 9:30 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - COVID-19 positivity rates are dropping across the state as we continue to trend downwards in the Omicron surge.

More children are getting vaccinated and school guidance is changing, but the next few weeks are critical to making sure cases don’t plateau or go back up.

“We’ve not yet seen any indication in the data that our rate of decline is being slowed either by the other Omicron subvariant BA.2 or by any increase from Mardi Gras or any other gatherings,” State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said. “We continue to make steady progress and we certainly hope that continues over the next couple of weeks.”

Kanter says Louisiana’s positivity rate is at 9.1-percent. New cases over the weekend also were cut in half from the previous week, but all 64 parishes are still in the red, meaning a high level of community risk.

“Cases have not yet dropped to a level where we can ignore COVID or not be in tune to what’s going on,” Dr. Catherine Baumgarten with Ochsner said. “We still need to take precautions. We still need to wear masks indoors, especially if there are large numbers of people indoors or for ventilation and we still need to get boosted.”

When it comes to kids, as more 5 and older become fully vaccinated, NOLA public schools report a 1.5-percent positivity rate, dropping a full percentage from the week before.

“We knew it was going to be a bumpy start after the holidays are in the schools went back in session, so hopefully we’re seeing a little bit of that calmed down, although I’m still hearing about some positive cases across schools,” Baumgarten said.

NOLA PS will be distributing over 40,000 rapid antigen tests to schools in the next coming weeks to increase their monitoring and get kids back in class.

This comes as LDH just announced modified guidelines schools can choose to follow when it comes to exposure quarantines.

Baumgarten says Ochsner still has 9 pediatric cases hospitalized and 257 adults in the hospital.

“Within the omicron height we had about 600 in our hospitals, so it’s improved but it’s not yet gone,” Baumgarten said.

Baumgarten urges everyone who can get boosted to keep going with precautions, saying it’s still too early to see the effects of all the Carnival balls and parades everyone has been going to.

She says our cases could stop going down, instead, they could plateau or even begin to rise again.

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