SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Doctors in the Shreveport-Bossier area on Friday updated the public on the severity of the Omicron variant., and how overwhelming it is for local hospitals.

Health officials from Oshner LSU heath, CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System, and Willis-Knighton system, address the spread of the Omicron variant in the North West Louisiana Region 7, and the reason behind the long wait times in emergency rooms.

“We wanted to have this press conference today because we wanted to take some of the pressure off of our urgent cares and our ER’s and let people know that yes we have a high level of omicron in our community,” said Regional Medical Director for Region 7, Dr. Martha Whyte. “Eighty percent of our tests are testing for Omicron.”

“The data speaks for itself if you look at the number of covid patients that have come into our hospital over the last three days.” said Jaf Fielder, president and CEO of Willis- Knighton Health system.”We’ve gone up 133%, and of those patients who have come in 70% of them are unvaccinated.”

Officials say the emergency room should only be for emergencies. If you have mild covid symptoms, doctors urge you to take advantage of telehealth services to free up time and space for those in need of serious emergencies and those who are at a higher risk of catching covid.

“Elderly people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, those are the people that we most want to be seen if they are not feeling well because they are our higher-risk people,” Whyte said.

People are most infectious one to two days before symptoms even appear, and if you have been exposed to the virus you should take precautions.

“Stay away from your family so they don’t get it because it is very contagious,” Whyte said.

“Please get vaccinated,” said Dr. John A. Vanchiere, M.D., pediatric infectious disease specialist.

“Don’t just get vaccinated but get boosted. ” added Dr. Steen Trawick M.D., CEO of CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System.