After weddings and football matches, the famous Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans was singled out on Thursday as the accelerator of the spread of Covid-19 in Louisiana, where the infection rate broke records, then that the United States risks becoming the next epicenter of the virus
The southern state of the United States has recorded 2,305 officially reported cases of the disease, which has killed 83 people, about half of which in the largest city in the state (997 cases and 46 deaths), according to figures. officials released Thursday.
“The New Orleans area is a kind of epicenter of the coronavirus in the state,” said local Minister of Homeland Security official Collin Arnold.
Death at 17
A 17-year-old boy died from Covid-19, health officials in Louisiana announced on Thursday. A 36-year-old patient died in the state, according to New Star. So far he was the youngest victim.
Another minor, also 17, may have died of coronavirus in California this time. According to the Los Angeles Times tests have revealed that the young man from Lancaster was carrying the virus, but other factors are not to be excluded.
The epidemic is spreading at full speed
The meteoric increase in contamination cases which worried the authorities and led them to declare the city in containment. The state has gone from 0 to over a thousand cases in two weeks, faster than anywhere in the world, according to a study from the University of Louisiana.
In New Orleans, since the first case reported on March 9, it took seven days to reach the hundred, and then only four to reach 300 cases, calculated the independent study center Data Center.
“Compared to other counties in the country, we have one of the highest infection rates, we are just behind several counties in New York City,” said the director of health services of the city, Jennifer Avegno.
Hundreds of thousands of participants
And for some experts, it was the carnival season, which culminated with Mardi Gras on February 25, and its hundreds of thousands of participants, that started it all.
“Mardi Gras was the key moment for the spread of the virus,” which has an incubation period of up to two weeks, said Rebekah Gee, a former Louisiana health official on Tuesday on MSNBC. “We now know that people who have come (to New Orleans) have spread the virus elsewhere, so we have evidence that the virus was present at the time.”
The virus has traveled from necklace to necklace
“People from all over the world were in processions, at parties. Unfortunately, they shared necklaces, drinks and they threw not only necklaces but also the Covid-19 “, underlined Dr Gee, in reference to the carnival tradition of the throw of plastic pearl necklace.
“This is clearly a problem that has probably resulted in what we see in New Orleans,” said Collin Arnold on Thursday.
For Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, Mardi Gras participants “sort of planted the virus” around the city. On the eve of carnival, the country was not yet on high alert, President Donald Trump even tweeting that the coronavirus was “under control” in the United States.
Louisiana confined since Monday
To curb the epidemic, Governor Edwards has ordered the containment of 4.6 million residents of the state since Monday evening.
The 400,000 inhabitants of New Orleans must stay at home since last Friday, on the order of the town hall. All public gatherings are banned in the “Big Easy”, the police have closed Bourbon Street and stores have to limit their operations.
The police “will apply the rules aggressively,” warned the mayor of the city, LaToya Cantrell, on Thursday, who ordered a massive screening of the population.
Hospitals at risk of saturation
But “it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We won’t see the effects of confinement for a week or more, ”warned Jennifer Avegno. The director of health services is especially worried about an imminent overload of hospital reception capacities while the number of patients continues to increase.
For the mayor LaToya Cantrell, April 7 “will be a threshold, on this date our hospitals will be saturated” while the health services lack medical and protective equipment.
A possible food shortage
Another concern is that the city’s food bank will run out of products by the end of the week, said Collin Arnold.
Drew Brees, the quarterback of the Saints, the local American football team, donated $ 5 million on Thursday to associations that provide meals to the poorest.