SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Shreveport doctors are urging the public to not underestimate COVID-19 as Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has lifted the state’s mask mandate for at least the next four weeks.

Edwards says he has seen tremendous improvement when it comes to COVID cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations.

“I am cautiously optimistic and very relieved that the worst of this fourth surge of COVID is clearly behind us, which is a direct result of the people of Louisiana who stepped up to the plate when we needed them to and put their masks back on, got vaccinated, and took extra precautions to stay safe. That’s why we are able to lift the statewide mask mandate,” Edwards said.

However, Louisiana’s Department of Health Region 7 director says we’re not out of the woods just yet.

“We loosen these requirements, it just puts us all at a little bit more risk,” Dr. Martha Whyte said, and that’s mainly because these COVID strains are unpredictable.

Dr. Andrew Yurochko with LSU Health Shreveport says the virus spread has followed a pattern.

“There’s these funny two months period where it gets very high, and goes down, it comes back, and goes down.” Therefore, one must continue to protect him or herself.

“Wash your hands, keep your distance as much as you can, and if you can’t, consider wearing your masks,” Whyte said.

People who are unsure if they should continue to wear their masks should consider their level of risk. For instance, if they are pregnant, elderly, or have underlying health conditions.

“I prefer to wear it [mask], you know any added protection that’s going to help me and my family, I’m going to take heed,” Shreveport resident Alvin Smith said.