LDH reports 31 new Omicron variant cases in Louisiana

Staff Report

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 31 additional cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in its Dec. 17 update.

None of these new cases have required hospitalization, according to the news release.

This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the state to 124. The first confirmed Omicron case in Louisiana was identified on Dec. 3.

The following is a total breakdown of cases by region:

  • Region 1 (Greater New Orleans Area): 94 - 56 probable; 38 confirmed
  • Region 2 (Baton Rouge Area): 14- 11 probable; 3 confirmed
  • Region 3 (South Central): 1 confirmed
  • Region 4 (Acadiana): 3- 2 probable; 1 confirmed
  • Region 5 (Southwest): 1 probable
  • Region 6 (Central): 1 probable
  • Region 7 (Northwest): 6 - 1 probable; 5 confirmed
  • Region 9 (Northshore): 4 - 2 probable; 2 confirmed

Not all cases of Omicron can be identified, which means that there are many more cases of Omicron occurring in Louisiana than are reflected in our case counts. Within the state, Omicron outbreaks have been identified in universities, and cases have been identified in high-risk settings such as K-12 schools and nursing homes.

CDC estimates that the proportion of Omicron among circulating variants is currently 2.9% nationwide. Louisiana estimates that the proportion of Omicron among LA variants is 4.3% for the week ending December 4 (please note that these data are preliminary as more sequences for that time period will continue to be uploaded). We expect transmission of Omicron will increase. 

“We feel very confident in saying that Omicron is now circulating throughout our state, and that the proportion of cases attributable to Omicron is likely to increase dramatically over the next few weeks,” said State Epidemiologist Theresa Sokol.

Case-based surveillance for Omicron is no longer sustainable due to the volume of cases being identified. In addition, providing case counts of confirmed and probable cases will provide an inaccurate representation of the amount of Omicron circulating in our state. This is because: 1) probable cases are only able to be identified by one specific PCR assay that picks up the S-gene dropout, 2) not all PCR samples are submitted for sequencing, and 3) many people are tested by rapid antigen or molecular tests, which are not able to be sequenced. 

Because of this, starting next Wednesday LDH will move to weekly variant proportion reporting.