With the fifth surge of COVID-19 in Louisiana bringing record-breaking numbers of cases, the state health department set up a temporary testing site earlier this week at the public health unit in Amite.

The free drive-through testing will continue next week at the health unit in Amite for the convenience of north Tangiparish Parish residents, said Dawson Primes, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the parish.

Hours there will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 330 W. Oak St., Amite.

After taking the rapid test at the public health unit drive-thru site, people park and sit in their vehicles for about 15 minutes until a health worker comes out to tell them the results. The information is also sent to the state lab for verification, he said.

Meanwhile, the public health unit in Hammond continues to offer free drive-through testing every Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Public Health Unit at 15481 W. Club Deluxe Road in Hammond.

Friday evening, Primes did not yet have a count of the number of people who got the test this week at the temporary site in Amite, but noted it was a significant number.

The virus is “running rampant,” he said.

At least 13 parish government employees have the virus, he said.

The Office of Parish Emergency Management has received a supply of home tests from FEMA and will begin distribution next week out of the mobile command center, he said. Primes said he will announce the locations soon via news media and on the parish government social media.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Louisiana had again set a record for COVID-19 cases, with 14,077 diagnosed in one day.

Despite the pandemic’s long slog, people need to keep up precautions against spreading and contracting the coronavirus, Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

“I know that people 22 months into the pandemic are tired of it. That includes me,” he said during a livestreamed briefing. “But we don’t really get a vote on that – we can’t say, ”Omicron, pandemic, you’ve got to go now.’’’

The state Department of Health estimates that the omicron variant caused more than 90 percent of the state’s cases as of Jan. 1, Edwards said. He said that compares to 95 percent nationwide and 98 percent in the U.S. health department region that includes Louisiana.

“Three weeks ago we had about 200 patients in the hospital” with COVID-19, Edwards said. “Today that’s 1,400.”

Louisiana suspended in-person visits to adult and juvenile prisons on Thursday.

The Office of Juvenile Justice said virtual family visits would continue. A news release Thursday said it was also limiting contractors and deliveries on its campuses.

The Department of Corrections and Public Safety, which runs eight prisons, said it will continue to offer two free phone calls a week so inmates can stay connected to family and friends, with video calls available for a fee.

The Louisiana Department of Health said Wednesday that preliminary estimates indicate omicron cases made up 90 percent of those diagnosed in the week ending Jan. 1, up from 88.5 percent the previous week.

The state logged 10,403 new cases, with 11 deaths and 1,287 people hospitalized – 48 of them on ventilators – in the 24 hours ending at noon on Wednesday.

By noon Thursday, in addition to the 14,077 new cases, there were another 12 deaths. The 1,412 hospitalized patients included 60 on ventilators.

More than 893,600 people have been diagnosed statewide since early 2020, and 15,038 have died, it said.

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