Louisiana could be next coronavirus hot spot, and hospitals are rushing to prepare

Louisiana has seen a large jump in COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks, recording 1,795 confirmed cases since the first diagnosis of the disease in the state March 9, suggesting it may be the next coronavirus hot spot in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.

The state added 65 deaths, as of March 26, sharp rise from 14 deaths on March 20. The state's average daily growth rate in cases has been 65.7 percent in the 15 days since the first case was diagnosed, an analysis conducted by Gary Wagner, PhD, an economics professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, shows.

New Orleans alone recorded 37 deaths, the third highest number of deaths recorded in U.S. cities and counties, behind New York City and King County, Wash., according to data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, the Journal reports.

Louisiana hospitals are working to turn regular wings into intensive care units, and the state is working to distributing ventilators. At a news conference March 25, Gov. John Bel Edwards said that 100 ventilators have been distributed to facilities in the New Orleans area, and there are plans to distribute about 200 more there, but there would still be a shortage.

President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Louisiana March 24, which will provide more federal funds for its pandemic response.

Healthcare workers statewide don't have enough personal protective equipment. Thea Ducrow, executive director of the Louisiana State Nurses Association, told the Journal that nurses have told her they have had to wear the same surgical mask for entire shifts. And hospitals don't have enough decontamination space, which means healthcare workers have to take off their scrubs in their garage to avoid wearing them home, she said.

"It's like preparing for an invisible hurricane," Latonya Brumfield, RN, a nurse at two hospitals in Baton Rouge, La., told the Journal. "We don’t know when landfall will be. We know our hospitals are not equipped for what's coming."

More articles on public health:
Is ventilator-sharing a good idea? Pulmonology experts weigh in
'We're going to be coding dead people': Hospitals consider do-not-resuscitate order for all COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 vs. SARS: How the outbreaks compare






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