NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— There’s a growing concern over increased COVID-19 contamination in wastewater samples in New Orleans.
Many medical professionals are worried about a possible spike following Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest.
According to a City spokesperson, wastewater collection numbers through May 6th show an increase in COVID-19 contamination in parts of the city.
In the French Quarter area, there was a ten-fold increase recorded. The Little Woods area of New Orleans East had an increase greater than 100 fold.
Wastewater virus data can be an early sign that an increase in COVID-19 cases could be on the horizon.
“Depends on the neighborhood. Some have increased from two to five. Some have increased by 10 or more over a week or two week period,” Dr. Jennifer Avegno with the City’s Health Department said.
She said she believes it will get worse before it gets better.
In the French Quarter, there was a 10-fold increase in COVID recorded. In the Little Woods area of New Orleans East, there’s been an increase greater than 100 fold.
“Remember wastewater numbers go up before people test, so this should be a warning sign,” she said.
Dr. Jennifer Avegno with the City’s Health Department says now’s the time to be even more cautious especially with the omicron subvariant BA.2 being extremely contagious.
“Consider masking in crowded indoor areas again,” she said.
In addition to masking, she says getting vaccinated and your booster shot will help you from needing hospitalization if you do test positive.
There are lots of talks that Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest are playing a role in the numbers going up.
“Anytime you have lots of people together, you are going to raise your risk,” Dr. Avegno said.
She went on to say, “The CDC has us at the lowest level of green right now, but I expect us to be at yellow in the next day or two, and that is a heightened level of alert. Let’s stop this before we go from yellow to red.”
Dr. Avegno also wanted to make everyone aware of oral treatments that are available for those over 50 with medical conditions. Paxlovid is now available and she said it cuts hospitalization by 90 percent for those who are unvaccinated. For more information, there is a Federal hotline 1-800-232-0233.