Louisiana confirms omicron variant of virus found in state
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s health department announced Sunday that it has confirmed the state’s first case of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Testing of a probable case of the new variant determined omicron caused the COVID-19 infection in a person who lives in the New Orleans area and recently traveled within the United States, according to the agency.
“We now know omicron is here in Louisiana. This is cause for concern, but not panic,” State Health Officer Joe Kanter said in a statement. “We have been expecting and preparing for this moment. To all Louisianans, the single best action you can take to protect yourselves and your families is to get yourself and loved ones vaccinated and boosted if eligible.”
Louisiana has one of the nation’s lowest immunization rates against the coronavirus. Nearly 2.3 million people in the state are fully vaccinated, according to the health department, about 49% of the total population.
More than a dozen states have identified the omicron variant of the coronavirus, and the list is growing near daily. Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.