Officially, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana. It's not a good time to have one of the most destructive storms ever to hit the state, but this is an especially frightening moment.
Louisiana is currently experiencing its worst covid-19 spike since the pandemic. As of Friday, the state had reported 3,428 additional cases. According to the Daily Advertiser, 84% of the hospital's ICU beds are full according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. Most of these beds are located in New Orleans, which is on the most dangerous side Ida. Baton Rouge will also be affected by Idas devastating effects. Mississippi will also be hit by Idas storm surge and rain, as it suffers the most deaths per capita in covid-19 in the U.S.
There is no room for error in an age of climate change and pandemics. The South's current situation shows how crises can build upon each other and increase the danger of fatal outcomes.
Hospitals are overcrowded and vaccination rates are low.
Mississippi and Louisiana have the lowest vaccination rates in America. Only half of the population in each state has received their first dose of covid-19 vaccine. This has led to a severe summer wave of covid-19 in the region, which is straining hospitals to their limits.
This is a problem in the South, and Idas's impacts will be so extensive as it pushes into the inland, there are simply not enough hospital beds to transport those who are seriously ill. Although some of the most seriously ill patients were evacuated from Idas path, many hospitals continue to care for the remaining patients as Ida strikes.
Louisiana Governor: We don't have any place for those patients. According to Bel Edwards, the AP. It's not in state, it's out of state.
Louisiana is already experiencing power outages. Nearly 224,000 Louisianans were without power as of early afternoon. Most of them are in the southeast corner, where Ida landed. As the hurricane moves inland, more outages are possible. This means that patients and hospital staff will need to rely on emergency generators for power. Hospitals lost power during Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Backup generators failed with devastating and fatal results. Ida will inspect hospitals to see if there are lessons learned from previous failures.
Shelters will put people in close proximity
There are many hurricane shelters in the area. You can find one in your area by texting lashelter (898-211) or calling 211. However, it is possible that it could be dangerous to venture outside at this time. Disaster experts were concerned that covid-19 could spread to shelters during the worst hurricane season in history. It is a bigger concern now because of the highly transmissible Delta variant, which causes the majority infections in the United States. Also, the lower rates of vaccination in Mississippi and Louisiana make it even more difficult.
How will hospitals deal with a new disaster?
There could be an additional surge in covid-19 waves in the South, due to the increased number of shelters. However, there will also be acute needs that will likely arise in the aftermath of the storm. This could push hospitals to breaking point.
Ida can cause many injuries. A Red Cross analysis of Hurricanes Gustav (2008) revealed that almost 3,000 people sought help for their acute pain, respiratory, and gastrointestinal problems. Another study after Katrina found that relief workers and survivors had reported 7,543 non-fatal injuries within two to seven weeks of the storm. The most common were falls and cut/stab/pierce.
It remains to be seen what Ida holds. The fact that sewage systems are failing and it is ripping through an area with high fossil fuel infrastructure means that the potential for respiratory and digestive issues, as well as the inevitable injuries that will occur, remains to be seen. Medical professionals already deal with the hurricane injury surge.
Recovery could be made more difficult by disaster fatigue
Covid-19 will also impact the recovery process. Covid-19 will also impact the recovery process. Samantha Montano, a disasterologist, wrote last year about disaster fatigue. Here's what she had to share in an eerily prophetic piece that she wrote last June:
The U.S. has been fortunate to have faced relatively few disasters during the pandemic. This does not diminish the damage and pain they have caused but it is a crucial distinction for management. These events were smaller than those of Harvey and Maria, which required a much larger response. There are still many unknowns regarding what will happen if a major disaster occurs.
The piece was written in the midst of record-setting hurricane and wildfire seasons, which were both records, even though the pandemic claimed hundreds of thousands of people's lives. Idas's arrival in Louisiana as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, while the state and region are under the grips of a terrible covid-19 epidemic is an amalgamation of two large-scale crises. It is unclear whether volunteer networks will respond to Ida's storm surge or if they will stay home and risk getting covid-19. However, the trends don't look good.