- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

NEW ORLEANS — Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday there is little indication the coronavirus epidemic is slowing in Louisiana, as the state’s confirmed cases jumped to 1,795.

Deaths in the hard-hit Pelican State also rose from 46 to 65, he said.

In a radio interview hours after President Trump approved Mr. Edwards‘ request to declare Louisiana a national disaster area, the governor said the rising rates of infection increases point to a still raging problem.

“This is a very serious situation,” the governor said. “We haven’t flattened the curve yet.”

National statistics show the five hardest-hit counties in the U.S. are all in New York, but the sixth is Orleans Parish. Until recently, New Orleans had more than half of all the state’s confirmed cases, although that has now dipped to roughly 48 percent.

Since the virus first infected people in Wuhan, China, last year, it has spread rapidly across the planet, hitting hardest in Europe and Iran. While most of the world’s population is in its Northern Hemisphere, scientists see some hope that the virus prefers cooler weather, which could help New Orleans and other southern spots as summer approaches.

The city is believed to be especially hard-hit in part because of the international crush of visitors it gets annually for its carnival celebration that culminated on Mardi Gras on Feb. 25.

Like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mr. Edwards hinted Louisiana could be facing a shortage of ventilators that are necessary because the novel coronavirus attacks the lungs.

The VA Hospital here, which has more cases than any other in the nation’s 170 health centers that cater to veterans, said it has no shortage of ventilators. Masks, another staple medical supply, are also sufficient, although some private hospitals staffers said this week that masks are no longer available in bunches but rather handed out individually upon request.

VA officials have indicated there have been no formal plans drawn up to incorporate their supply chains and hospitals into the nationwide fight against the virus, although the idea has surfaced.

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