NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Today the Louisiana Department of Health held a briefing to discuss the latest on the Omicron variant.

“We are in a real doozy of a surge right now,” Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer with the Louisiana Department of Health said.

State health leaders say the surge rages on, but there’s hope on the horizon with Omicron cases essentially peaking statewide.

“Peaking is important, but when you are on one side of the mountain you can still be very high up,” he said.

Overall hospitalizations are down from 11.5 percent to 8.8 percent, but they are seeing a higher number of elderly deaths despite them being vaccinated. Another trend more kids under 5 years old are being hospitalized. They can’t be vaccinated, so to help protect yourself and those kids Dr. Joseph Kanter suggests.

“If you’re not vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated but not boosted, then get boosted,” Dr. Kanter said.

He says Omicron does respond well to the booster shot. 93 percent of folks in Louisiana hospitals are not boosted thinking ahead getting boosted before all the Mardi Gras festivities and masking up. He says both are must-do’s.

“Honestly my biggest concern is people gathering right now for balls and pre-parties. While we are in a surge be discerning about the crowds we are in,” he said.

While the outlook is positive regarding cases, Mardi Gras could set us all back once again.

“We need to protect ourselves not only from each other but other folks who are coming in,” Teresa Sokol, State Epidemiologist said.