LDH: COVID, flu cases on the rise; people urged to take precautions ahead of holiday gatherings
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) said COVID-19 cases are on the rise and the flu is at its highest level in five years.
Officials are encouraging people to get up to date on their vaccines and boosters ahead of holiday gatherings.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, LDH reported 4,453 new COVID-19 cases in the state between Monday, Nov. 28, and Sunday, Dec. 4. Officials said the number was 2,651 for the previous week.
“It is possible we are seeing the beginning of another COVID-19 surge,” said LDH State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “On top of that, Louisiana is already experiencing its most active flu season in at least five years. Thankfully, we have the tools and experience to protect ourselves and those around us. Staying up to date on your COVID-19 and flu vaccines, including getting your bivalent COVID-19 booster, will give your body time to bolster immunity before the height of the holiday season.”
Officials said the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen from a seven-day average of 170 to 245.9.
They added 10.3% of healthcare visits in Louisiana were for flu-like illness as of Dec. 5. According to LDH, the regional average is 8.6% and the national average is 7.5%.
Information provided by LDH:
The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to offer continued protection against the original strain, while also offering new protection against two lineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5.
You are considered up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters if you have completed a primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC. CDC recommends that people:
- Ages 6 months through 4 years receive all COVID-19 original (monovalent) primary series doses
- Ages 5 years and older receive all COVID-19 original (monovalent) primary series doses, plus an updated (bivalent) booster
Find out when to get a COVID-19 booster with CDC’s COVID-19 booster tool
Everyone six months of age and older should get their flu shot. It is safe and convenient to get your COVID-19 vaccine/booster and flu vaccine at the same time.
Louisiana residents should also consider getting tested ahead of gatherings, especially those that will include people vulnerable to severe outcomes due to COVID-19 and flu, such as older individuals, infants, and those with weakened immune systems. There are COVID-19 test sites throughout Louisiana. Visit ldh.la.gov/covidtesting or call 211 to find a test site near you.
Home testing kits are also widely available, and for people with insurance coverage, including Medicaid and Medicare, up to 8 tests per month are available free of charge.
Tips for staying healthy during the holidays
- Stay up to date on your vaccines and boosters
- Wash your hands frequently
- Stay home if you are sick
- Know your risk
- Make a plan with loved ones
- For those who desire added protection, a high-quality mask such as an N95 or KN95, when worn correctly, provides excellent protection
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