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Gov. Edwards updates state on Omicron variant

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - Governor John Bel Edwards and State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter shared an update on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 Friday, December 3.

This variant was identified by the World Health Organization last week as a “variant of concern” and has since been confirmed in at least 36 countries and five states in the U.S.

Gov. Edwards did share that no Omicron cases have been detected in Louisiana, but added that it does not mean the variant isn’t here. Dr. Kanter said that they are paying very close attention to Omicron right now, since nearly 100% of the positive cases currently confirmed in Louisiana are related to the Delta variant.

“We don’t have great data about how transmissible this variant will be. Again, there is theoretical data based on the number of mutations and where those mutations are that it will be more transmissible,” Dr. Kanter said. “It’s certainly been increasing in numbers in South Africa. In some parts of South Africa it appears to be outcompeting Delta, that was previous most abundant variant there, but these are all relatively preliminary and theoretical concerns.”

During the briefing, they shared they have little information about this variant, but shared that the best way to combat it is to be fully vaccinated and getting the booster if eligible. Gov. Edwards addressed a question regarding if he would consider implementing restrictions again if this variant spreads rapidly.

“At the present, my mind isn’t there,” he said. “I mean we’re nowhere near that. If we will all do what is prudent, it’s much less likely that we ever get there. While we have this new variant out there that’s circulating, and we have a lot of questions about it, it is true that we are much better off than we’ve ever been. Not just in the current baseline number, but the percentage of people who have chosen to be vaccinated.”

Right now, only 49% of the state’s population is vaccinated.

Both Gov. Edwards and Doctor Kanter advised those in Louisiana to be vigilant and get vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 booster shot if they have already been vaccinated, as it’s the best protection against the virus. The program “Shot for 100″ has been extended until December 31, where you would receive $100 to get your first vaccine shot, and you could visit their website for more information.

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