Virus hot spots in Southern states poised for disproportionate suffering

Virus hot spots in Southern states poised for disproportionate suffering

Politico reports:

St. John the Baptist Parish, just southeast of Baton Rouge, La., has a population of just over 43,000 — and the highest per capita coronavirus mortality rate in the nation.

Frantic local officials instituted an overnight curfew just this week and are begging residents to stay home. But in largely rural Southern states like Louisiana — where social distancing has been spotty, widespread testing is unavailable and hospitals are poorer and farther apart — the response may be coming too late to avoid a public health crisis as bad as the one now engulfing New York.

In New York, a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship is now docked and officials have been setting up makeshift morgues and marshaling thousands of health care workers. But St. John has no hospital within the parish boundaries, and many of its neighboring parishes have no ICU beds.

Hot spots like St. John the Baptist are erupting across the South. The virus is also poised to consume the area around Norfolk, Va., a rural county in Tennessee just north of Nashville and parts of southwest Georgia near Albany, according to models assembled by Columbia University epidemiologists. And without the resources of major cities, these areas are poised to see disproportionate suffering, economic hardship and death when cases peak.

“There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand the outbreak that would occur if there isn’t rigorous social distancing,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

With the same kind of equipment and staffing shortages plaguing big cities on the east and west coasts, local officials are left begging residents to stay indoors. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.