Zurik: New Orleans continues to be one of the nation’s COVID-19 hot spots, analysis shows

City health leaders describe New Orleans as having ‘substantial community spread’
Updated: Mar. 17, 2020 at 9:05 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans is experiencing one of the highest numbers of cases of COVID-19 per capita, based on an analysis of data across the country by FOX 8 News.

FOX 8 looked at county and parish level data of COVID-19 cases from states across the country. Among that data, we analyzed information from counties and parishes with a population of 100,000 or more and 10 or more positive COVID-19 cases. A few states did not disclose case counts on the county level.

During the coronavirus pandemic, national news reports have focused on so-called “hot spots” of cases near Seattle and New York City, but the cluster of cases in Southeast Louisiana ranks among those sites in most cases per capita (per 100,000 residents.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Orleans Parish had 136 cases, or about 35 cases per 100,000 people. Based on FOX 8′s analysis that is second in the country behind the cluster of cases in Snohomish County, Washington which on Monday afternoon reported 266 cases, or about 33 cases per 100,000 people. The cluster of cases in Orleans Parish ranks just above Westchester County, New York which reports 380 cases, or 39 cases per 100,000 people.

“We continue to be and are increasingly concerned by the number of cases of COVID-19 that we’re seeing here in New Orleans," Dr. Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans Health Department Director, said at a Monday press conference. "There is substantial community spread that has already resulted in two deaths and it continues to appear that the rate of infection here is increasing much faster than even other cities in the U.S.”

The cluster in Southeast Louisiana is not just isolated to Orleans Parish, FOX 8′s analysis shows Jefferson Parish ranks in the top 15 across the country in cases per capita. The latest complete count in Jefferson Parish had 31 confirmed cases which represents 7 cases per 100,000 people.

When we analyzed data on a metropolitan-level, it also confirmed New Orleans’ status as one of the nation’s hotspots.

In our analysis of metropolitan areas, defined by the U.S. Census, the Seattle-Tacoma metro area topped the list with 848 cases and 17 cases per 100,000 residents. The New Orleans metro area was next on the list with 186 cases and 12 cases per 100,000 residents. The New Orleans area is compromised of New Orleans, Metairie, Hammond, the Northshore and one county in Mississippi.

The metro areas of Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, Iowa, San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, California and New York, NY-Newark, NJ rounded out the top 5 list of metro areas with the highest number of cases per 100,000 in population.

Data collection assistance provided by the Michael I. Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism at Indiana University.

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