NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans leaders are pressing people to get the COVID-19 vaccines as cases of the Delta variants of the virus begin surging the state.
New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno joined the the mayor's office's weekly news conference on Tuesday to outline the city's concerns about the surging cases.
Dr. Avegno said that while New Orleans is seeing progress on vaccination rates, the Delta variants are "encroaching" on the city from other parishes that have far lower vaccination rates.
"Delta is here. Delta is dangerous and Delta is killing people. This should scare the hell out of you," city spokesperson Beau Tidwell said. "The message from the mayor is that this is serious and you should get your shot."
At a New Orleans City Council community development meeting earlier in the day, Avegno said that many of the outbreaks she is seeing are among daycares and summer camps with children who are unvaccinated. In Louisiana, COVID-19 vaccines are not available to children under 12 years old.
The U.S. has seen a string of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to summer camps in recent weeks, in what some fear could be a preview of the upcoming school year.
Avegno said that parents of children under 12 years old or people who would be most at risk of severe impacts from getting COVID-19 should "strongly consider" wearing masks in public, even if they have already been vaccinated.
Avegno added that parents should be more cautious until the COVID-19 vaccines are approved for younger children, which she said could possibly happen in the fall.
The clusters have come as the number of newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. has reversed course, surging more than 60% over the past two weeks from an average of about 12,000 a day to around 19,500, according to data from John Hopkins University.
The rise in many places has been blamed on too many unvaccinated people and the highly contagious Delta variant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.