Louisiana confirms first case of omicron; COVID-infected cruise ship arrives in New Orleans
Louisiana confirmed its first case of the omicron COVID-19 variant, while a Norwegian Cruise Line ship with a coronavirus outbreak also arrived in New Orleans on Sunday.
Louisiana first reported the suspected omicron case on Friday, but confirmed it on Sunday.
The case involves a person from the New Orleans area who recently traveled to the United States.
“We now know that Omicron is here in Louisiana,” said Dr. Joe Kanter, Louisiana’s public health official, in a press release. “We were waiting and preparing for this moment. To all Louisianans, the best action you can take to protect yourself and your families is to get vaccinated and get vaccinated and your loved ones, if you are eligible.
“We know families have questions and concerns. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the public informed. “
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship has reported at least 17 cases of COVID-19 among its crew and passengers. One of the cases was identified as a probable variant of omicron.
Governor John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana Department of Health, the City of New Orleans, and the Port of New Orleans are aware of and are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to initiate the agreements and existing COVID-19 protocols with the cruise line, the public health agency said in a press release.
Norwegian Breakaway departed from New Orleans on November 28 and stopped in Belize, Honduras and Mexico on its voyage. There are over 3,200 people on board.
Everyone on board will be tested for COVID-19 before disembarking and will receive post-exposure and quarantine public health advice from the CDC.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will travel by personal vehicle directly to their personal residence or self-isolate according to current CDC guidelines in accommodation provided by the cruise line.
Greg Hilburn covers state policy for the USA TODAY network in Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @ GregHilburn1.