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Add a COVID test to your holiday to-do list, health leaders say

“The more layers you can protect yourself with, just as if you were going out into the cold, the better off you’re going to be."

NEW ORLEANS — If you plan to travel or be with family for the holidays, health leaders say plan to get tested.

“Knowing your status before you walk out the door is important,” said New Orleans health director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “If you test positive, you shouldn’t be going anywhere.”

If you do, Dr. Avegno says know what you’re getting into.

“If you can just understand your risk and act accordingly, then you should be able to enjoy the holidays,” Dr. Avegno said.

The holidays come as Omicron is now the dominate COVID variant in the country. Guidance from the state health department urges folks to get tested multiple times, regardless of vaccination status, especially before you travel, before you gather and when you return.                                             

“It’s a good idea to test, be vaccinated, and then in indoor gatherings to wear masks if you’re in a larger sort of group,” said Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention at Ochsner Heath Dr. Katherine Baumgarten.

“We all want this to be over. But we’re still in it,” said President Joe Biden during an address to the nation Tuesday.

President Biden laid out plans for increased federal testing sites and the purchase of half a billion at home rapid testing kits. Starting next month, those kits will be mailed out by request.

“With as fast as Omicron is being transmitted, having that rapid test on the day that you need it, is really important,” Dr. Avegno said.

Dr. Avegno says the city’s health department has given out more than 20,000 at-home rapid tests so far. More will be given out Wednesday and Thursday.

“We didn’t want to wait until those at home mailed tests would be available. We decided to use pretty much everything we had in stock right now at the health department to get it out to the public,” Dr. Avegno said.

Dr. Avegno says it doesn’t stop at testing. Vaccines and boosters are an important part of the holiday season.

“The more layers you can protect yourself with, just as if you were going out into the cold, the better off you’re going to be,” said Dr. Avegno.

New Orleanians can get these free, at-home COVID-19 tests December 22nd and 23rd at the following locations from 8am – 4pm:

  • Fire Station #1: 2920 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130
  • Fire Station #29: 317 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70130
  • Fire Station #36: 5401 Read Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70127
  • Fire Station #40: 2500 General DeGaulle, New Orleans, LA 70114