Mar 26, 2020
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New Orleans Coronavirus: City Faces a Nightmare, and Mardi Gras May Be Why

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“One of my members, Sister Monica, is on a ventilator,” said Tyrone Jefferson, 46, pastor of a church in the city’s St. Roch neighborhood. “Another rushed to a hospital yesterday. Two are at home with it.”

Doctors and nurses at city hospitals, like hospital workers all over the country, describe a dire shortage of critical protective gear. The Cajun Navy, one of the informal Louisiana volunteer brigades famous for rescuing people from floodwaters, and the Cajun Army have delivered several boxes of masks and gallons of hand sanitizer to medical workers.

But the deluge of patients keeps coming.

Mr. Edwards, a moderate Democrat in his second term, has always been careful about criticizing the Trump administration for both political and practical reasons: After a hurricane, there is little use in picking a fight with a federal government that holds the key to disaster relief.

On Tuesday, however, Mr. Edwards said he would like to see the Trump administration get more involved in the coronavirus response in a way that prioritized harder-hit areas.

Ventilators and personal protection equipment should be allocated, he said, “based upon demonstrated need, as opposed to the current situation, where every state, every health care provider, is working the best they can but independent from one another.”

As the disease spreads and sickens those fighting it, a potential shortage of medical workers, particularly nurses and respiratory therapists, is for many the biggest worry. For now, many exposed health care workers — a description that accounts for more than half of the city’s emergency medical technicians — are wearing masks and checking their temperatures but, as long as they are not showing symptoms, staying on the job.

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