HOUSTON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- New Orleans, the largest city of southern U.S. state of Louisiana, will reinstate its indoor mask mandate starting Wednesday as the city's COVID-19 positivity rate is over 30 percent, New Orleans Health Director Jennifer Avegno said on Tuesday.
The mask mandate, which will go into place at 6 a.m. local time on Wednesday prior to the Carnival Season, is a simple way to mitigate the spread of the virus, said the official during an update on the city's response to COVID-19.
She also suggests that residents wear a KN95 or N95 mask to avoid the infection of Omicron vibrant.
Avegno said hospital emergency rooms across the city, suffering from staff shortages and rising hospitalizations, have wait times of up to 10 hours.
Many schools in the city have also to move to virtual options due to staff becoming sick from COVID-19, Avegno added.
COVID-19 infections surged by more than 29,000 over the weekend in Louisiana where hospitalizations hit a three-month high, according to the data released by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) on Monday.
Overall, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 soared 62 percent over the last week. The LDH also reported 19 more deaths on Monday, bringing the state's total deaths related to the coronavirus to 15,073.
The Omicron variant made up an estimated 90 percent of cases in Louisiana. Though it appeared less virulent than the Delta variant, local hospitals were still strained under Omicron's ultra-fast spread, public health officials said.