Despite Hurricane Ida’s threat to hit at the same time as a wave of Coronavirus cases are escalating in Louisiana, hospitals in New Orleans are scrambling for public health emergencies on two fronts.
As of this month, Covid-19 dashboards showed that New Orleans is in the midst of a “severe outbreak” with 220 infections on average every weekday. As of Friday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported more than 3,400 cases statewide. The Covid-19 virus has hospitalized at least 2,684 people in Louisiana.
New Orleans Hospital System Prepares For Ida As COVID Surges.
The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Louisiana in an immature month hit the second-highest level since Jan. 6, 2021, with 6,800 new cases in a single day, the largest increase in a single day since the pandemic began.
As Dr. Jennifer Avengo, New Orleans’ director of public health, explained, our city is once again dealing with a natural disaster amid a global health crisis. We are pleading and hoping everyone will take the preparations very seriously and very thoroughly.
If they haven’t previously received the Covid-19 vaccination, Vengo said residents still have time to get the dose. The state health department says that as many as 90% of new infections found between August 12 and 18 and 99% of hospitalizations have been caused by unvaccinated residents. We encourage you to get vaccinated to give yourself more protection, Vengo said. Thank you if you’ve already gotten vaccinated, he added.
National Hurricane Center data show that Hurricane Ida’s sustained maximum winds reached 80 mph with stronger gusts as it passed over western Cuba. As the storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico, it will be accompanied by significant flooding.
According to forecasters, Hurricane Ray will cause major damage to the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph — 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana as a Category 3.
Several health care providers in New Orleans have already put in place contingency plans, including hiring even more staff, handling an excess supply of supplies, and cutting the number of patients who are admitted to hospitals for non-emergency conditions. The Ochsner Health president and CEO has shared that the organization was fully prepared for the storm and in “disaster mode,” Warner Thomas said.
Thomas said that Ophsner ordered 10 days’ worth of medical supplies, medications, and food. Having lived in Louisiana, he said, this is something we’re used to. Today, he said, we’re in the same mode.
In keeping with its Code Grey policy, LCMC Health will bring in extra staff to care for patients early Sunday morning. According to Dr. Jeffrey Elder, medical director for emergency management, employees and patients will shelter in place until evacuation orders are issued. In addition, doctors and nurses have been advised that a high volume of patients is expected amid the surge of cases in the Covid-19 trial. The Elders explained that they’ve been trained for this. It’s something they’ve been prepared for.
The warm Gulf of Mexico is expected to intensify the storm, resulting in particularly dire weather for New Orleans. Residents living in low-lying areas outside the levee system have been ordered to evacuate by LaToya Cantrell, the city’s mayor. As well as urging voluntary evacuations inside the levees, she also urged voluntary evacuations outside the levees.
The lessons learned by the city’s hospitals in the years since Katrina affected parts of the city, Elder says, will be useful for planning for future emergencies. Among these are improvements to building hardening and preparation for power and water outages.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, our hospitals are in much better shape than before. The facility is built to handle hurricanes of higher intensity and we are ready to shelter in place to protect our patients and staff during a hurricane.