Hurricane Set to Strike Louisiana Just as Covid Infections Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Ida is intensifying into a major hurricane headed toward New Orleans just as Louisiana and surrounding states buckle under rising Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Louisiana currently has more than 2,700 Covid patients in hospitals, according to the state’s department of health. Meanwhile, Ida’s top winds could reach 115 miles (185.07 kilometers) per hour when it comes ashore and small towns on the U.S. Gulf coast have already told residents to evacuate.
“To have these disasters layered on top of each other is a big strain,” said Kevin Smiley, a professor at Louisiana State University who studies disasters and health. “In an era of climate change and pandemics, this is the type of multi-part disaster that we might see more often.”
A large evacuation would mean increased contact between people and potentially raise transmission rates, Smiley said Friday in an interview. He added that Louisiana hospitals and health-care facilities are already strained and would face more pressure if forced to simultaneously treat injuries from a storm.
Since early July, Louisiana has been consistently one of the worst Covid-19 hot spots in the country. Although cases appear to have peaked in the last couple weeks, hospitals remain overrun, with intensive-care units more than 90% full and half of them treating Covid patients.
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