New Orleans and Jefferson Parish have the highest COVID-19 death rates in the country

Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 at 4:02 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -The Louisiana Department of Health is concerned by the numbers. They show New Orleans and Jefferson Parish with the highest coronavirus death rates in the country.

In Orleans Parish, that’s 14.6 Covid-19 deaths for every 100,000 residents. And, 5.5 for Jefferson Parish. Both areas have significantly higher death rates than other areas of the nation.

King County, which is Seattle, Washington has 4.8 deaths for every 100,000 residents. And, in New York City, it’s 4.4

“We know that we have a lot of disparity across our community, in any emergency anyone vulnerable will fare worse. We are concerned because we have so much inequity in this community that we are at risk for a worse outcome and we need to be cognizant of that,” Joseph Kanter, M.D., with the Louisiana Department of Health said.

According to the State health department, a number of people in Louisiana who have died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. 41% had diabetes, 31% had chronic kidney disease and 28% were obese.

“Because of the demographics of our unhealthy population and in New Orleans, in particular, we do have a large number of patients who have these conditions and that is what puts the patients in a higher risk category even if they are of a younger age,” James Diaz, M.D., with LSU Health School of Public Health said. “You don’t necessarily have to be older than 65 for example, you could be younger and have one of these coexisting medical conditions.”

Kanter says the main thing Louisiana can do is ensure access to acute healthcare. He says that’s why we’re now seeing an unprecedented expansion of medical capacity in Louisiana.

“The things that will make our outcomes even worse is if people can’t get care in a hospital, if there are no beds available or if there is no doctors or nurses available to treat them,” Kanter said.

He adds Louisiana’s death rate numbers should serve as a warning.

“It’s going to happen in many, many other cities. It’s just happening first here but other cities across the country need to know they’re just as much at risk and if we as a nation can’t figure out how to get simple things like PPE and ventilators to the healthcare workers that need them to do their jobs than we are going to be in big trouble,” Kanter said.

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