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7 Very Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana

One of the nation's hotspots is suffering severely from the outbreak.

Medical personnel talk at a drive-thru Coronavirus COVID-19 testing station at West Jefferson Medical Centeron March 17, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. West Jefferson Medical Center has opened a drive-thru Coronavirus test station where patients who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus can be referred by a physician to be tested. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Medical personnel talk at a drive-thru Coronavirus COVID-19 testing station at West Jefferson Medical Centeron March 17, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. West Jefferson Medical Center has opened a drive-thru Coronavirus test station where patients who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus can be referred by a physician to be tested. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Here are seven very disturbing facts about the coronavirus outbreak now raging in Louisiana.

Virus Raging.  Statewide Louisiana is second only to New York in deaths per 100,000 people with 582 reported as of April 7. Six parishes (counties) in the New Orleans area are in the top ten in deaths of all the counties in the nation: St. John the Baptist, Orleans, St. Charles, Jefferson, St. James and Plaquemines, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Racial and Class Disparities.  Louisiana is 32 percent African American.  Yet 70 percent of COVID 19 deaths in Louisiana are of African Americans. "These differences are produced by policy, not physiology," Dillard Professor Amy Lesen told the Advocate. "They're based on race and class bias in the health care system, access to health care and preventative care." Similar disproportionate impacts have been observed in Chicago and Milwaukee. This shows the pandemic is following patterns of entrenched inequalities in economic and medical opportunities.

Nursing Homes.  There are 436 nursing homes in the state.  Fifteen days ago, there were 3 nursing homes with more than one person infected.  Inside those homes 363 patients have been identified as carrying COVID 19, one hundred more than last week.  More than 103 people have died in these homes and more than 70 homes have at least one person with the virus.  There are now 47 nursing homes with more than 1 person infected

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Federal Prison.  A federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, the first inmate died March 29, by now five inmates have died and 22 others tested positive for the virus. 

State prisons reported their first positive on March 28, now 28 prisoners have been reported positive. Additionally, 26 staff have tested positive. All family visits have been cancelled for weeks as have pardon and parole hearings. The New Orleans jail reports 15 inmates positive for the virus.

Immigrants. ICE holds 8,000 immigrants in jail in Louisiana.  The first ICE case outside of Oakdale has been reported in Pine Prairie Louisiana.  Immigrant women in ICE jails in Louisiana protesting inadequate coronavirus protections were pepper sprayed. The women were being held in a housing area with 80 other women where the bunks are less than a meter apart. Women in other ICE jails made a video shared with The Intercept trying to alert the world to their plight.

Unemployment. Louisiana usually gets about 1,500 applications for unemployment a week. Two weeks ago they received over 70,000.  The max benefit for Louisiana workers is $247 a week, lowest in the nation. No one in Louisiana has received a federal check for the additional $600 promised.  

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com

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