Louisiana's leading health officials are saying the COVID 19 Omicron variant is bad. And it's only going to get worse.

In an on-line meeting Monday afternoon, officials from Louisiana's Department of Public Health called for a return to indoor masking and increase in vaccinations and boosters in an attempt to hold off another virus surge.

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Dr. John Vanchiere, infectious disease specialist at LSU Health Shreveport, told KSLA, “We are seeing significant increases in our positivity rates in our community testing and, unfortunately, also in our nursing home testing.

“Those numbers aren’t real big yet, but it is definitely increasing," said Vanchiere, adding that the Omicron variant is in the state and "it spread like wildfire.”

And how rapidly is this new COVID strain increasing? State epidemiologist Theresa Sokol says that just released data shows that Omicron will soon be the dominant strain in Louisiana.

And Shreveport's Vanchiere agrees, telling KSLA, “We can expect within the next 10 to 14 days that Omicron will be the dominant strain.”

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The latest numbers, released Monday by the Louisiana Department of Health, show the number of new COVID cases in the state increased more than 2,000 over the weekend and over 4,800 over the past week, doubling in only seven days.

But for now there does seem to be a silver lining to this latest COVIC cloud. The number of COVID related hospitalizations in the state remains low, reported at 241 patients Monday. That total is among the lowest number since March 2020 and far below the highest number, more than 3,000 in late July and early August.

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