NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans Health Department is recommending masks again—indoors!

This because waste water samples show a high level of COVID-19 in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Health Department says they are concerned that we will soon see another surge like we did last summer with Delta.

But this time, we have waste water samples which are giving us more time to be cautious, and that includes masking indoors again as a stern recommendation.

“The average case count is 155. That’s a five time increase from a month ago,” Dr. Jennifer Avegno with the New Orleans Health Department said.

As coronavirus cases rise, she said it is now time to go back to the basics.

“If we as a community can adopt short-term but widespread indoor masking again then we can get back to not needing a mask much quicker. I want to stress this is not a mandate, but the more people do that it will determine how long or short we will stay in the surge,” she said.

Barbara Korte who is visiting New Orleans from Minnesota said, “I would follow the recommendation because I’d do anything to stay safe.”

Bailey Golobek who is visiting from Texas said, “I’m not against masks, but you know whatever it takes to make people safe.”

Waste water samples show that New Orleans is no longer in the low risk category, but medium risk category, according to CDC metrics.

“It is clear that the virus is circulating widely. Not a surprise. Let’s be honest we’ve all been out doing all the things like festivals, weddings, graduations, parties the last few months,” Dr. Avegno said.

The virus is spreading in both residential areas and hospitality areas.

“I know our hospitality business is very aware of this,” Dr. Avegno said.

“I think it is good to be aware and I think it is good to listen to the experts like Dr. Avegno and follow what they’re suggesting everyone to do, not only visitors but locals,” Kelly Schulz with New Orleans & Company said.

“We just have to buckled down and be more cautious and I think we will get there,” Dr. Avegno said.

In the coming weeks, look for KN-95 and surgical masks to be given out at local fire stations and libraries.

Remember high quality masks have been proven to lower the risk of viral transmission.

Also, the Federal Government will mail you 8 free at-home COVID-19 tests. To order those tests, click HERE.