BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — As the COVID-19 omicron surge continues to break infection records across Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards shared concerns Thursday morning about people considering getting deliberately infected with the disease in an attempt to get natural immunity.
Edwards said the omicron surge may be reportedly less virulent than previous variants, but it is still hospitalizing people in record numbers, including record numbers of children. That includes children below the age of 5, who cannot receive vaccines.
Edwards said some people believe that they should catch the disease to “get it and get it over with,” but he noted that people have no way to know how severely their bodies will react to the disease. He called such decisions “irresponsible and dangerous.” On top of that, Edwards said such behaviors could have disastrous effects on the state’s hospital systems and could promote the spread of the disease to others who do not wish to catch it.
Edwards said as of today, the state’s hospitalizations for COVID have eclipsed the numbers set in Jan. 2021 — 2,081 people today vs. 2,069 a year ago. The height of hospitalizations was in Aug. 2021 with over 3,000 hospitalizations, though Edwards said more children are being hospitalized now than at the height of the delta surge.
The governor also said the Louisiana Department of Health will also start tracking COVID reinfections on the state’s dashboard next week. Since the start of the pandemic, around 35,000 people have caught COVID more than once. Of those people, 60% between September and December 2021 were unvaccinated.
Edwards said the state’s current public health emergency proclamation expires Jan. 19. The governor said he plans to extend that proclamation. At this time, he said he does not expect to change the state’s mitigation efforts or reinstate any mandates, though he said that decision will be based on the strain on the state’s hospital system.