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COVID percent positivity rate highest since March 2020

"Some compare it to the measles and chicken pox in terms of its contagiousness."

NEW ORLEANS — On Wednesday, the first day of the mass testing site at the Shrine on Airline, 1,503 people were tested and 31.47% were positive. That's nearly every one out of three people testing positive.

"All of this is a reflection of a very, very contagious variant," said Dr. Fred Lopez, Infectious Disease Expert with LSU Health.

Statewide, the percent positivity rate for the week of Dec. 23 - 29 was 27.1%. That's the highest since March 2020 when the rate was 32% at its peak.

"Ideally, we'd like it to be less than 3%," Dr. Lopez said.

Dr. Lopez explained the high percent positivity rates show us how transmissible the Omicron variant is. 

"Some compare it to the measles and chickenpox in terms of its contagiousness," he said. 

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 14,077 new cases of COVID Thursday, breaking another single-day record for new cases since the start of the pandemic. These numbers do not include at-home COVID tests. 

"No doubt we're underestimating the total number of cases reported because many people are subscribing to at-home testing," Dr. Lopez said. 

The demand for testing is the reason Ochsner and Jefferson Parish Opened the mass testing site at the Shrine on Airline. 

"Rapid tests are in more demand than they’ve been since the onset of COVID two years ago," said Dawn Pevey, CEO of Centers of Excellence with Ochsner. "We also know rapid tests are not readily available at retail locations, they are seeing out really quick."

Those rapid tests at the Shrine on Airline are best for those who actually have symptoms. Asymptomatic carriers may not get accurate results. It will be open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the demand decreases.

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