NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to wear face masks and get vaccinated as the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant surges through Louisiana.
During a news conference addressing public safety before the New Year’s weekend, Cantrell said she was not alarmed about prospects of another shutdown but rather optimistic that residents and tourists will do what is needed to slow the spread of the virus.
“It only comes by people doing what we know it will take: masking up, getting vaccinated,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell said she is looking forward to the holiday season and events, including Carnival season.
The Louisiana Department of Health reported a record-breaking 12,467 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, but two new deaths. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to sharply spike, increasing by 103 more patients on Wednesday to a total of 762 hospitalized. Louisiana had only 206 people hospitalized with the virus two weeks ago.
Thursday is the second day in a row that Louisiana reported a record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases.
Overall, new COVID-19 cases in Americans of all ages has skyrocketed to the highest levels on record. An average of 300,000 per day, or more than 2 ½ times the figure just two weeks ago. The highly contagious omicron accounted for 59 percent of new cases last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
There are early indications that the variant causes milder illness than previous versions, and that the combination of the vaccine and the booster seems to protect people from its worst effects.
“It will be a disruptor. Not one that takes life, but one that disrupts business operations that none of us can really control,” Cantrell said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.