NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA–As Louisiana’s COVID-19 cases surge, the state and the hard-hit city of New Orleans are moving fast to address the crises. Monday, the new New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will open up 1000 beds for coronavirus positive patients. The medical center will not accept walk-ins. The center is designed for coronavirus patients that will be transported from the Hospitals that are not in a “fragile” status.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor, Bille Nungesser says the overall feeling in New Orleans is eerily familiar the past saying, “It’s the same feeling the only difference is there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You got to figure, Katrina, Gustav, Ike, Issac, the oil spill, the floods of 2016, with 57 of the 64 parishes flooded, We’ve seen just about everything except this. This medical facility shows how well we work together as a team, both local and state government officials, to get the job done.”
Two isolated housing areas will be used. Outside, the PHU or personal housing units are for individuals that have been tested and are symptomatic but do not have the results of the test. If a patient outside in the PHU housing tests positive and their status is not serious enough to stay at the hospital, (for instance they might be improving in respiratory status but still require oxygen and are not able to isolate themselves at home), they are moved to the medical monitoring station inside of the convention center. This facility is manned by nurses and medical student volunteers and professionals.
The National Guard set up the medical center in a matter of days and the Navy is on site to help with patients. Officials say Louisiana had an advantage in some supplies because of our history with hurricanes. However, the state is vulnerable, along with other hard hit states, when it comes to much needed PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks and those on site of the medical center say the next three weeks will be critical and advise everyone to follow social distancing orders.
“You know it’s heartbreaking not being able to do something more to help. All we can do is stay home and isolate and pray and hopefully we see things level out because you almost feel helpless. Louisiana people are strong and they help their neighbors, so if any state can get through this, Louisiana can,” says Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser.