New Orleans among top 5 cities to feel greatest COVID-19 impact, report suggests

NOLA Economic Impact

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans is a city that thrives on music, food and its culture. But new restrictions to try to get a handle on COVID-19 is hurting the local economy.

“We’ve lost, probably, I don’t even know what to tell you. It’s a bloodbath,” Liz Creel, Parkview Hotel owner said, “It’s a bloodbath.”

This is happening across the city, especially in the tourism industry. Putting thousands of people out of work.

“I’ve lost 17 people. So, it’s a lot,” Slim Goodies Diner Owner Deborah Schumacher said

The Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ava Dejoie says as of Wednesday (March 18) 28,733 filed for new and continuing unemployment claims, compared to last week’s total were 1,803.

“I think this is uncharted territory for all of us. Not just the workforce commission but for everyone,” Secretary Dejoie said.

A new report from the Brookings Institute suggests if current restrictions stay in place for months, New Orleans will be deeply impacted.

Michael Hecht with Greater New Orleans Inc. says he’s not surprised by the report.

“The coronavirus is directly responsible with what is happening with hospitality and tourism,” Hecht said.

The Brookings Institute says New Orleans ranks in the top five among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas where a COVID-19 recession will likely hit the hardest.

“When you consider the 80 to 90,000 people that work in tourism those are the ones whose livelihoods are most at risk,” Hecht said. “So, a real sector of our economy, in terms of payroll, is going to be hit.”

He says the country is currently in what he calls phase one, where the focus on health and flattening the curve. But immediately after that, he says the country needs to get back to work and deal with a new normal.

"There are going to be new restrictions,” Hecht said. “There are going to be new protocols. But if we do that in four weeks, I think the damage is a magnitude less than if we do it in eight weeks."

The state Workforce Commission Secretary says they’ve hired 25 more employees to deal with the increase in unemployment claims. The state says once a person files, they should receive a check within a week after it’s processed.

Here are some tips on how to file unemployment claim:

• As soon as you know that your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you should file an Unemployment claim.

• Apply for UI online at or by calling (866) 783-5567.

• Claimants have until Saturday at 5 p.m. to file a claim in order for that claim to be effective that week.

• Usually, there is a one-week waiting period for UI claimants, but the LWC is currently waiving that waiting period.

• Claimants may file online or via telephone.

• For faster service, we encourage all applicants to file their claims online at

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