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Thursday, 02 April 2020 21:42

Why is Covid-19 hitting Louisiana and New Orleans area so harshly? The numbers

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Roughly one month ago, Louisiana had no coronavirus cases report. Today, the state Department of Health and Hospitals claim there are 10,297 reported, 370 deaths reported, 1707 patients in hospitals, 535 of them on ventilators. 

Also, over 53,000 tests have been completed, with 49,608 being done by state labs.

The New Orleans region is one of the nation's top hot spots.  In New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, deaths alone amount to 233.

 So, why is New Orleans area and Louisiana so explosive when it comes to cases and deaths?

CNN's reporter today stated:

"When we talk about obesity when you talk about kidney issues you talk about diabetes, all of those underlying factors exist here at a much higher rate than in many parts of the country so you combine all of that together. And then you throw into the fact that the vast majority of the cases that the Louisiana hotspot has seen is here in the New Orleans area alone. That really is a recipe for a very dangerous situation and is what health experts and state officials it's the reason why they continue hammering home, at this point, that the city in this region around. Southeast Louisiana really needs to do practice the social distancing staying away, protecting themselves from getting infected because there's so many other underlying issues here that could complicate matters for them as they try to get recover from this infection. Okay."

I basically asked the same question on Facebook, earlier this week.  Do check out the comments

BestPlaces Releases New Coronavirus Risk Assessment Toolkit

On Thursday, I received an email fron BestPlaces which analyzed some of the factors that might be causing the spike and the facilities we have to combat the disease BestPlaces compared New Orleans to Madera California, Rochester Minnesota (the home of Mayo Clinic) and with the United States. Here are the findings:, a small firm in Portland Oregon, has released several data sets to help health professionals and policymakers gain insights into how severely COVID-19 might impact counties, metro areas, and states.  BestPlaces has amassed an unparalleled collection of data on every city, town, state, metro area, county, and zip code in the U.S. and is sharing their work to fight the Coronavirus.


In creating the Coronavirus Risk Assessment Toolkit (CRAT), the data team at BestPlaces assembled statistics for a variety of health resources and risk factors that can be used in forecasting models, geographic information systems (GIS) or spreadsheets.  The CRAT seamlessly covers the entire United States, with comparable data on all 51 states, 383 metropolitan areas, 3143 counties, and a special table focused on rural counties.

Anyone can view the data set online and copy the data for their own analysis.

Here are the metrics of the Toolkit, which have been identified by the health community as key resources or risk factors affecting the impact of the Coronavirus:

  • Population
  • Hospitals
  • Hospital beds
  • ICU beds
  • Percent of population over 65 years
  • Percent of population over 80 years
  • Percent of population with poor or fair health
  • Percent of population with diabetes
  • Percent of population over with obesity
  • Population density

One important feature of the CRAT is the inclusion of metropolitan area data.  Other data sets have been at the state or county level but this also aggregates data at the metro area.  This is significant because even if there are no hospitals or ICU beds in some of the smaller counties of a metro area, its health resources are commonly available to all residents of the metro.

Each of the geographies is coded with standard Census FIPS codes so the data can easily be combined with other datasets or visualized with any GIS application.  Counties that are part of the 383 U.S. metropolitan areas are tagged with the name and code of its metro area, relating it to the Metro Area table.

This is a valuable resource for a variety of groups:

  • National health officials can use it to identify potential hot spots before they flare up.
  • State and local health officials can compare their locale against areas of known infection, to assess the possible future impact on their region.
  • Policymakers and politicians can gain insights from the statistics which can help them gain better insights into the magnitude of the impact.
  • The media can use the data for stories about the resources available in their area, how local risk factors compare with the rest of the state and nation, and helping to power data-driven journalism.
  • The public is able to do their own assessment, perhaps finding some of their own answers to questions that have been raised by recent waves of Coronavirus news.

Sample data from the Risk Assessment Toolkit


No Risk Index?

One thing that the BestPlaces team is not doing is taking the final step of creating a Coronavirus Risk Index.  To do that, they would assign a level of weighting to each of the risk factors, and this is best done by health experts and scientists.  Assigning a Risk Index for a particular place may have serious repercussions.  A high Risk Index for a county or city could lead to increased fear and anxiety, and a low Risk Index may give a false sense of security.  Accordingly, BestPlaces will leave this calculation of a Risk Index in the hands of the scientific community and policymakers.

However, BestPlaces has used its expertise in ranking and comparing places to create an additional risk assessment scoring model.  In the BestPlaces scoring model, the Coronavirus data has been normalized across the categories to create a set of indexes, and each metric can be assigned a level of importance (weighting).  BestPlaces is making this model available to any group to aid in their work to combat the Coronavirus.  


Moments ago, we received more information about this same issue, this coming from The Data Center. Here are their findings:

In recent days, death announcements are coming way too frequently. From Ronald Lewis, the founder of House of Dance and Feathers, to Oliver Stokes Jr, perhaps better known as the locally renowned DJ Black N Mild, to Ellis Marsalis, the patriarch of the amazing Marsalis family, too many of our elders, civic leaders, and culture bearers are falling ill and passing away.
Today we release new data on COVID-19-related deaths in our region. This data is not only poignant, it is a critical measure of the true impact of COVID-19 on our city. While confirmed cases may be constrained by limited testing capacity and lag times in test results, death data is a closer reflection of the true infection rate, as well as medical capacity and the pre-existing health conditions that make our city so vulnerable to COVID-19.
Our latest COVID-19 data update includes:
  • COVID-19 mortality rates over time among counties with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the country.
  • COVID-19-related deaths in New Orleans compared to other leading causes of death.
  • In short, the number of COVID-19 deaths in New Orleans in relation to our population size is the highest of all hard hit regions in the country. As of April 3rd, there were 32 deaths for every 100,000 residents, nearly double the mortality rate of New York City. A recent uptick in Jefferson Parish deaths has brought it to second.
To put this into context, it only took six days from the first death in Orleans Parish for COVID-19-related deaths to outpace all influenza and pneumonia deaths in New Orleans for the entire year of 2018. COVID-19 has since also outpaced several other leading causes of death in New Orleans, including homicide, kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
See these stats and more at:
Read 10054 times Last modified on Friday, 03 April 2020 18:46
Stephen Sabludowsky | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.