NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The Greater New Orleans Area is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Cases are currently higher than they were this time last year.

The COVID-19 community level for this area remains high, which means we meet the CDC’s criteria for a high level of viral spread.

“We expected there to be a summer surge, and I expected it to be a little bit later, but it came pretty quickly on the heels of our winter surge, and I think that’s just an indication of how this particular Omicron variant changed pretty rapidly,” explained New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno.

The city’s health director says although cases are up, it’s not as grave as it may seem.

“So, yes, we are higher than we were a year ago at this time, but if you compare our peak over the last week or so to the peak of Delta last summer, it’s significantly lower,” said Dr. Avegno.

She says this new Omicron variant appears slightly more contagious, so high-risk patients must make sure they are taking the appropriate measures to protect themselves and that everyone needs to understand their own risk.

“I think we should expect future waves, and our behavior and our actions, individually and as communities, will decide if they’re going to be tsunamis, or are they going to be little ripples or like the ones we’re seeing now,” said Avegno.

Avegno is also reminding high-risk patients there are oral therapeutics, like Paxlovid, now available to reduce the risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 by 90%.

Patients should talk to their health care provider. If you don’t have one, call LCMC Health Nurse Hotline at 504-386-3125 to be connected with one.