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Omicron COVID surge continues to wane

Thursday, February 17, 2022
Omicron COVID surge continues to wane

• COVID cases in Lincoln Parish increased by only five from Tuesday to Wednesday, down from the nearly 50 cases per day in December.

Lincoln Parish continues to see a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases that health officials say are fueled by the Omicron variant.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, confirmed local cases of the respiratory virus increased by only five, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

The daily new case count has been steadily declining this month, signaling that the fifth surge of coronavirus may be moving toward an end. The parish hit a high of as many as 50 cases a day in December. The decrease in new cases mirrors the statewide trend.

Louisiana’s new COVID cases have been coming down “quite steadily” since the first of the year, Dr. Joe Kant er, the state’s top health officer said Tuesday in an online briefing.

A jump of only 1,396 new cases occurred from Tuesday to Wednesday, compared to a singleday pandemic record set in January of 14,077 new cases.

Kanter said all the measures used to track COVID, including emergency room visits, hospitalizations and the need for testing, continue to trend downward.

Local ER visits by patients with COVID-like symptoms are also on the decline, Northern Louisiana Medical Center spokesperson Tami Davis said.

As of Wednesday morning, NLMC has eight patients hospitalized with COVID.

The parish’s COVID positivity rate — the measure of patients tested for COVID who are found to have the virus — is also dropping. The positivity rate is just over 16%, down from 21% for the reporting period that ended Feb. 2. Anything over 5% is generally considered high. The state’s positivity rate stands at 9.1%.

“That’s down from 14.3% this prior week. That’s down considerably from the peak of the surge which was 29% positivity and that was around the first few days of January,” Kanter said.

However, all 64 parishes remain at the highest level for risk of transmission. The reason: Because the peak was so high, it will take time for the risk to drop, Kanter said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards extended Louisiana’s public health emergency order stemming from the pandemic, but without any remaining required mitigation measures.

“While we remain in an Omicron-fueled surge, we are definitely on the down swing. There is a lot of COVID out there in Louisiana, and fortunately we have many more tools available to us now to prevent severe illness and death including safe and effective vaccines, booster doses, therapeutic interventions, and better quality masks,” Edwards said.

He said it remains important for people to consider their personal risk of serious illness if they get COVID, have comorbid health conditions or are unvaccinated. The current order expires March 16. Edwards hinted he may lift the order on or before then, but only if it doesn’t jeopardize the flow of outside resources to help Louisiana hospitals.

The original COVID public health emergency was signed on March 11, 2020 and has been extended and altered as the COVID situation in Louisiana has changed.