BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that he is not announcing any new publich health mandates as COVID-19 surges in Louisiana, but he is urging people to wear masks and take into consideration the risks of group activities.

“I can tell you we start 2022 in a challenging place with COVID-19. There has never been more of the disease, transmission has never been higher, and positivity has never been higher than it is right now,” Edwards said in a briefing Thursday afternoon as cases continue to surge in the state.

Edwards said virtually 100% of COVID-19 cases in the state are from the Omicron variant, and while the symptoms appear to be milder, transmission is at an all-time high.

“It is simple math: even if it is less virulent, and it is, if many more people on an order of magnitude that we’re seeing are getting infected then you’re still putting enormous demand on the health care delivery system.”

State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter said the state has never seen COVID-19 spread at such a fast rate, and it’s not showing any sign of slowing anytime soon. And while people are getting less sick with the omicron variant than with the delta variant, unvaccinated people are at greater risk.

To learn about vaccination sites near you, call Louisiana’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 855-453-0774. For a list of locations near you, visit or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish.

To find a COVID-19 test site near you, call 211 or visit

Kanter also noted K95 and KN95 masks are more effective at protecting the wearer and those around them from the transmission of the coronavirus than cloth masks.

State health officials continue to ask people to avoid the emergency room to get tested for COVID-19. Kanter said the state is working to get more tests available to the public. In the meantime, anyone experiencing symptoms should assume they are positive and isolate.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported 14,077 new cases Thursday, breaking the single-day pandemic record of 12,647 set on December 30, 2021. Thursday’s new cases bring the total number of cases to 893,626. LDH also reported 12 new deaths, bringing the total deaths statewide to 15,038.

The leading age group testing positive is 18-29-year-olds.

The number of hospitalizations statewide has risen by 125 to 1,412, with 60 patients on ventilators. Hospitalizations continue a steep rise in Northwest Louisiana, as well, rising by 21 over the past 24 hours to 219, with 13 on ventilators.

Of the 1,905 new cases reported in NWLA since Wednesday, 922 are in Caddo Parish, 407 are in Bossier Parish, and 169 are in Webster. Natchitoches reported another 1387 cases, De Soto 80, Claiborne 52, Bienville 49, and Red River 26.

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