Latest on COVID-19 in SWLA and highly transmittable new variant

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The recent jump in COVID cases in Louisiana is blamed on the newest rapidly-transmissible omicron strain. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has changed their way of monitoring cases in the state.

“The current predominant strain is Ba.5 which is a new sub variant of omicron which we really started to see a lot earlier in the month of June and it’s really what is responsible for this current surge of cases that we are seeing,” said Dr. Lacey Cavanaugh with LDH.

Dr. Cavanaugh says the symptoms of this new strain are very similar to previous omicron variants.

“A lot of upper respiratory symptoms, nasal congestion, coughing, body aches, fever - those same symptoms we’ve been talking about with COVID for a long time. But the good news is just like that original omicron that we saw over the winter, it does not seem to cause as severe of disease as some of our earlier COVID strains,” said Dr. Cavanaugh.

Dr. Cavanaugh says anybody with those symptoms should get tested, along with anybody who has come in contact with the virus, but she said it’s best to wait a few days before testing.

“You don’t wanna necessarily test immediately after a close contact because you may not be positive yet. It’s ok to test immediately but then you wanna test again within 3-5 days,” she said.

She adds that at-home-tests are readily available at this point, and you can get them over-the-counter at many places.

If you do test positive- the current isolation guidance is 5 days.

“If on the 6th day you are generally feeling better, your symptoms are improving, you don’t have fever anymore, then you are allowed to start resuming normal activities, on day 6, but we recommend you wear a mask from day 6- day 10 because there is a small chance that you could still be contagious in that window,” said Dr. Cavanaugh.

If you do come in contact with the virus, the guidance for quarantining is also five days. But Dr. Cavanaugh reminds people that if you come in contact with a household member, that virus is still contagious. She advises that people begin their five days of quarantine at the last point of contact with the infected person.

Dr. Cavanaugh says they are not asking people who test positive at home to report to the state, so while the COVID dashboard is likely an under representation, they have developed other ways of tracking COVID in the community.

“I think what you’re seeing is sort of a move of COVID data to sort of see how we do disease monitoring for many other diseases including flu, and moving into kind of a modeling and estimation of the case load based on numerous indicators,” said Dr. Cavanaugh.

Dr. Cavanaugh says vaccines still seem to be very effective at preventing a severe illness with this new strain. She advises everybody to stay up-to-date on their vaccines and boosters, especially in the midst of this rapidly spreading variant.

She also adds that in addition to vaccination, they have therapeutics more widely available now, which can be very effective for high-risk patients who contract COVID. If you are a high-risk patient who contracts COVID, you can talk to your doctor about your eligibility for the therapeutics.

Copyright 2022 KPLC. All rights reserved.