NEW ORLEANS- It appears that the hot item this Christmas is not found under a tree, but rather knowing what your COVID status is.

Thursday afternoon Michael McKenna joined people around the city getting a COVID test in advance of traveling.

According to McKenna, “I’m getting on a flight to Tampa tomorrow and I just wanted to make sure everything is alright”

What has also ramped up the testing this holiday season is the prevalence of the Omicron variant in New Orleans

New Orleans Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno explained, “Instead of a curve it’s a straight line and that reflects how contagious Omicron is.”

The city’s health department gave out over 6,000 at-home test kits yesterday.  And the at-home tests are also flying off the shelves at local pharmacies. At Chateau Drugs, they’re trying to keep up with demand.

Chateau Owner Kerry Milano said, “We get them(at-home test kits) once a day. We’re limited to 12 kits with 2 tests per kit, they sell out, we book them ahead of time.”

Omicron has even prompted some to get the vaccine and with increased infections in the city and Omicron running rampant, Dr. Avegno says she’s not suggesting that you cancel your Christmas gathering, but please plan and be smart about it

“I would think really really hard about what the risk is.  I think if they are small and everyone is vaccinated, boosted and especially if you can have a negative test walking into grandma’s house, that’s pretty safe, said Avegno.

Many have heard the message like Charlie Murley, who’s hoping to get home to Chicago to see family.

Murley stated, “I came down with COVID and I’m going home hopefully for the holidays in a few days and I’m hoping to get a negative test before I go home to see my family.”

The city’s testing sites at the Mahalia Jackson Theater and the UNO Lakefront arena will be closed until Tuesday, but there are at-home test kits available at some local pharmacies.

Avegno also stated that if you begin to feel ill over the weekend, do not visit family and isolate until you can get tested.