Is it too good to be true? I hope it is not so, but real, for as Forbes Magazine reports, New Orleans has in spite of being a major hot spot of COVID-19 been three days without any deaths.
New Orleans, which once held the unfortunate distinction of having the highest per capita coronavirus death rate of any city in the country, hasn’t reported a new death from coronavirus in the past three days — highlighting a remarkable turnaround for a city that was one of the hardest hit during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak.
This is the first time the city hasn’t recorded a Covid-19 death over three consecutive days since March 11-13, the period immediately preceding the city’s first death on March 14.
By March 26, the city had the highest per capita death rate of anywhere in the U.S. — more than twice as high as any other locality in the country — according to an analysis from The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, with more total Covid-19 deaths there at the time than in Manhattan.
Health experts believe the fast spread early on was likely fueled by the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations, which came to an end Feb. 25.
Over the Carnival season, it’s estimated some 1.4 million revelers from around the world packed into the city, which has a permanent population that sits just under 400,000.
After the city enacted stay-at-home orders in mid-March, the spread quickly slowed, with a New York Times analysis finding that by mid-April the city had the fastest decrease of new cases among any of the nation’s metro areas.
New Orleans was able to move to its Phase 1 reopening on Saturday, opening restaurants, bars and many other businesses to reopen in a limited capacity.
The situation in New Orleans seemed dire during late March, with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards saying at a March 24 news conference that Louisiana had the fastest coronavirus spread of anywhere in the world — principally because of the numbers coming out of New Orleans. Appearing on Sunday morning news shows on March 29, Edwards said Louisiana was set to run out of ventilators by April 4, though that reality was never realized as the spread quickly slowed. The city’s massive convention center along the Mississippi River was also repurposed into a 1,000-bed hospital, with plans originally calling to expand its capacity to 2,000 beds, though the facility never came close to reaching capacity. The state leased out space at a downtown New Orleans hotel in case even more area was needed for hospitalization. But social distancing and time largely seemed to contain the spread in New Orleans, with the city receiving an A- grade for social distancing from a data science company called Unacast, which used anonymous cell phone data to track mobility. (source)
I sincerely hope this trend will continue. However, I have many doubts.
This does not mean that protective measures should be taken down. Rather, it means they should be increased. Likewise, grave precautions should be taken so that a second wave does not re-emerge come the fall.