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Hurricane Ida Could Make Louisiana’s Covid-19 Outbreak ‘Much, Much Worse,’ Fauci Says

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 29, 2021


Hurricane Ida will make landfall in Louisiana Sunday as a likely category four storm as the state is already facing a major Covid-19 surge, further straining Louisiana hospitals as they’re already filled to capacity and forcing residents to congregate in shelters that could fuel more Covid-19 transmission.

Key Facts

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN Sunday Hurricane Ida’s potential impact on Louisiana’s Covid-19 outbreak “bothers me considerably,” as the state faces two “catastrophes conflating on each other.”

While some hospitals along the Louisiana coast expected to bear the brunt of the storm have evacuated some critically ill patients, the state’s major hospitals around New Orleans did not evacuate, with Gov. John Bel Edwards saying on CBS Sunday it was “just not an option because there’s just not any of our hospitals with the capacity to take them.”

Hospitals have undertaken significant preparations including switching to generator power even before the storm makes landfall and stocking up on extra food, but Bel Edwards noted that “it’s impossible to…say how long the power will be out” from the storm, and “that begins to test your systems” and put strain on the hospitals’ resources.

Dr. Robert Hart, chief medical officer at Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest hospital network, told the New Orleans Advocate hospitals have also been challenged by the logistics of how staff can remain socially distanced while remaining at the hospital for potentially days during an extended power outage.

In addition to hospitals, Covid-19 transmission at shelters housing residents that have evacuated their homes are also a concern, though measures will be in place including mask wearing and temperature checks.

Though the shelters cannot refuse people who don’t wear masks, shelter manager Barbara Casterlin told the Associated Press they will be segregated in an isolated area, and Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome told CBS shelters there will also have isolated areas for those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Crucial Quote

“We’re having a situation where even if you’re stretched to the limit, to superimpose upon it what will likely be a historic weather environmental catastrophe is going to do nothing but make things much, much worse,” Fauci said on CNN about Louisiana’s outbreak with Hurricane Ida.

Big Number

2,450. That’s how many people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Louisiana as of Saturday, Bel Edwards said. Though that’s still the highest rate the state has seen during the pandemic and among the highest in the country, the governor noted hospitalizations have at least declined by 20% over the past 10 days, a fact Bel Edwards said is “very helpful going into this hurricane.”


In addition to Louisiana, Ida is also expected to impact Mississippi, which is also facing among the highest Covid-19 rates in the nation. Hospitals there have also been preparing ahead of the storm and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Saturday federal health care teams will provide additional hospital beds for patients that are transferred away from the storm. “There is no doubt that … this particular storm is going to create some real challenges for us to deal with,” Reeves said.

Key Background

Ida is making landfall in southeastern Louisiana as an “extremely dangerous major hurricane” Sunday with maximum sustained winds near 150 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reports, likely just shy of the 157 miles per hour needed to classify the storm as a category five hurricane. The extreme wind and rainfall is expected to bring widespread devastation and flooding to the area, including New Orleans. Mandatory evacuations were ordered near the coast ahead of the storm while those in the New Orleans area, who are more shielded by the city’s levee system to block storm surge, were under a voluntary order. The storm is likely to be the strongest the region has faced in modern history, with Bel Edwards saying Saturday Ida “will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s.”

Further Reading

Hurricane Ida Makes ‘Extremely Dangerous’ Approach, Could Still Strengthen To Category 5 Before Landfall (Forbes)

Ahead of Hurricane Ida, coastal hospitals evacuate most critical patients amid COVID surge (New Orleans Advocate)

Packed with virus patients, Louisiana hospitals await Ida (Associated Press)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus


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