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Louisiana And Texas Health Experts See Signs Of Burgeoning Covid-19 Surge

Courtesy: C.Smith

LA & TX SEE COVID UPTICK — Louisiana again is starting to see growing numbers of COVID-19 cases, and an infectious disease expert says the state is entering another spike as the omicron variant of the virus spreads. Data released Monday by the Louisiana Department of Health shows the number of new cases of coronavirus illness reached more than 4,800 over the past week. That’s more than double the amount of new cases from the week prior. The health department warns those numbers are expected to balloon as fast-spreading omicron has been confirmed in Louisiana. Dr. Catherine O'Neal, Chief Medical Officer with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, says Louisiana is seeing the telltale signs of a burgeoning COVID-19 surge, she told the Baton Rouge Press Club that the unvaccinated will likely be the most affected by the new variant.

"We do know that it is reinfecting people who have natural immunity but no vaccinated immunity at a much higher rate than we saw with Delta which is concerning," O'Neal said.

Dr. Catherine O'Neal, Chief Medical Officer for Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA
Dr. Catherine O'Neal, Chief Medical Officer for Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA

Hospitals everywhere are preparing for a potential coronavirus surge after the holidays, thanks to the new omicron variant.   Hospitalizations and coronavirus case numbers have been increasing for the past few weeks across North Texas. Stephen Love, president of the Dallas-Forth Worth Hospital Council, says that’s a concerning trend heading into the holidays as people will want their lives to get back to normal and participate in traditional holiday gatherings with family, friends, and going to public events.

 “The truth of the matter is, we're not back to normal. We're dealing with a pandemic, that's not normal," Love said.

Love says hospitals have weathered previous surges, but he’s concerned about staffing shortages and healthcare worker burnout if another surge hits. Doctor David Winter with Baylor University Medical Center says it’s important that people stay away from crowds, wear masks, and not let their guard down during the holidays.

“That’s when the surge comes back. And it looks like every couple of months, it comes and goes and it comes and goes," Winter explained. "So there's a lesson there. We can stop the spread of this virus, we can at least curtail it if we just do the basic things we know work.”

Dr. Winter says Baylor Medical Center is trying to get prepared by looking at bed capacity and staffing, but it’s going to be challenging. He says the best protections are to get vaccinated, and if eligible to get a booster against the omicron variant. Failing that, health officials urge people to practice caution when traveling for the holidays, and if they’re unvaccinated, they should consider staying home.