New Orleans Is The Next Coronavirus Epicenter, Catalyst For Spread In The South, Experts Say

New Orleans Is The Next Coronavirus Epicenter, Catalyst For Spread In The South, Experts Say

New Orleans
New Orleans will likely be the next coronavirus epicenter and could be the catalyst for spread in the South. Some experts blame Mardi Gras. A man pushes a wheelchair down Bourbon Street, March 19, 2020. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell have ordered all restaurants and bars to close except for takeout and residents to remain home and maintain social distancing. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Things are about to get real hard in the Big Easy. New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the U.S. and this is bad news for the South.

Right now, New Orleans has the world’s highest growth rate in coronavirus cases and city officials warn the number of cases could overwhelm local hospitals by April 4, Reuters reported.

Statewide, Louisiana has the third-highest caseload of coronavirus in the U.S. on a per- capita basis after New York and Washington.

Louisiana’s coronavirus growth rate is higher than other states, according to a University of Louisiana at Lafayette analysis of global data. On March 25, cases jumped 30 percent 24 hours. On top of this, about 70 percent of Louisiana’s 1,795 confirmed cases to date are in the New Orleans metro area.

Why the fast spread coronavirus in the Big Easy? Carnival may be to blame.

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“Mardi Gras was the perfect storm,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, who heads up Louisiana State University’s health care services division. “It provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus.”

Fat Tuesday fell on Feb. 25, and the virus was already in the U.S.

“New Orleans had its normal level of celebration, which involved people congregating in large crowds and some 1.4 million tourists,” Gee said. “We shared drink cups. We shared each other’s space in the crowds. People were in close contact catching beads. It is now clear that people also caught coronavirus.”

The trajectory of the New Orleans case growth continues to be very alarming, said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We have a long way to go.”

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As far as fears that New Orleans could be the next epicenter, “Unfortunately, I kind of think we are there,” said Tulane Medical Center’s critical care physician, Dr. Joshua Denson.

Part of the problem with this virus is that patients who end up in the ICU can end up staying there for anywhere from one to three weeks, Denson said on America’s Newsroom.

Like other states, Louisiana has ordered residents to stay at home and to limit their travel.