US fast tracks to become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic

3 mins read

New York City, New Orleans and Los Angeles on edge as cases grow

Throughout the week, FEMA military steadily sets up operations in several areas in New York state that have been hit hard by confirmed coronavirus infections. At first, New York was the epicenter of coronavirus crisis in the US. As of Friday, reports show that the US surpassed Italy in numbers of infections. Now, recorded infections are just above 93,000, making it the hub of Covid-19 for the world. 

Since New York’s report of the first Covid-19 case on March 1, the state prepares for a grave situation that they expect to worsen rapidly. According to a statement released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, “on Tuesday, the rate of hospitalizations . . . [are] doubling every 4.7 days.” Currently, New York carries almost 60 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US.

Members of the New York Army National Guard discuss procedures at the Coronavirus Hotline, call center in Hawthorne, N.Y., March 16, 2020. The New York State Department of Health established a toll-free Coronavirus Hotline (1-888-364-3065). Photo credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sean Madden

With the cooperation between Cuomo and FEMA, the military is turning a concert venue, a convention center and a couple of universities into hospital sites and lodging for medical staff and military. In turn, Cuomo holds daily press conferences to update New York City residents.

The state of New York expects to see anywhere from 55,000 to 110,000 infections in 45 days. To deal with the implosion of sick residents, Cuomo called for more medical help. The response was 4,500 retired doctors and nurses.

As New York sets up its triage centers, Cuomo has been asking for more medical supplies and ventilations. Currently, they have 7,000, but he says experts have estimated the need at 30,000. The lack of medical equipment is an issue throughout the country. At hospitals in Detroit, medical staff hook up four patients to one ventilator. Now Ford Motor Co., is teaming up with 3M and GM Healthcare to mass produce ventilators and breathing machines.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti

While New York hunkers down, California works to wrangle residents to shelter-at-home. When Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, Californians took it as a play date. Record numbers of beachgoers, hikers and park enthusiasts stormed state and city outdoor recreational spaces. 

Gov. Newsom ended up closing parking lots for beaches and parks. While this measure thwarts outdoor activities in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area, many homeless who have cars, use these parking lots to sleep.

In Los Angeles, there are an estimated 60,000 homeless people. The staggering number caused by years of real estate and rent hikes without a substantial increase in wages, has left working residents in dire straits. Now that the coronavirus pandemic is on the rise, local authorities are scrambling to come up with a solution.

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, just announced that he’s partnered with the city council to budget $20 million for temporary shelter. As well, he’s issued a moratorium on evictions of residential and commercial businesses. The city also installed 250 hand sanitizer stations and increased deep-cleaning in high-touch areas.

While the city structures tighter plans, some homeless families refused to wait for the Garcetti Administration. Homeless mothers are moving into vacant homes for shelter. It was under Garcetti that homeless numbers shot up. Documented Covid-19 cases are at 4,105 in Los Angeles. As a result, Gov. Newsome told Californias to ready themselves for at least, a two month stay-at-home mandate, and expect to see more infections and fatalities.

New Orleans

New Orleans mayor, LaToya Cantrell. Photo credit: PopTech

In the south, New Orleans is in the greatest state of emergency. In total, Louisiana reports 2,305 infections, but about 43 percent of those, or 997 cases, are in New Orleans. Local authorities surmise that the concentration of Covid-19 cases are due to recent Mardi Gras festivities.

This is similar to Italy who began to report a large spike of cases after their annual Carnevale celebrations in Venice and Milan. Following Carnevale weekend, reports of confirmed cases went from a couple of dozen to 300 in a matter of days. Currently, Italy has 80,589 sick, but has the most deaths: 8,215. Of those, 31 doctors have died and 5,000 medical staff have tested positive.

Although New Orleans has two large hospitals recognized for health innovations, health and income inequities in the city become glaringly evident during citywide emergencies. According to a report by the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative, 71 percent of Black households in New Orleans make less than $45,000 a year compared to 31 percent of non-hispanic, single white women.

Louisiana’s Gov. John Bel Edwards has repeatedly asked residents to stay inside. The state has the fastest growth of cases. On the other hand, some GOP southern governors are slow to order a full shutdown. Mississippi, Florida and Texas have been criticized for not being more aggressive in ensuring the safety and health of its residents. Gov. Johnathan Tate has flat out rejected issuing quarantine directives, but did offer a prayer for Mississippians to be protected.

Meanwhile, Jackson, Mississippi’s mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, Jr., has closed down bars, restaurants and large public gatherings until March 30. Jackson has also instituted a grocery drop off for residents who cannot travel for food.

Duane Reed researches currency and market investments; and dibble dabbles in news and travel.

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