New Orleans may run out of ventilators in a week, governor says

Tribune Content Agency

Louisiana, which has the fourth-highest U.S. coronavirus death total so far, anticipates running out of capacity for breathing machines in the city of New Orleans within a week.

“We’re on a trajectory right now where we’ll not be able to deliver the care that people need when they need it,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Hospital bed space may run short by April 10.

In a separate interview, Bel Edwards said that the recent boisterous Mardi Gras celebration — before the imposition of social distancing — likely contributed to the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the state’s largest city.

“It’s likely that Mardi Gras contributed to the seeding of the virus in and around New Orleans,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The state needs more ventilators and has requested supplies from the federal stockpile and from other equipment manufacturers, he said. A request was made for 12,000 but so far only 192 have been delivered. “That is inadequate to the task,” the governor said.

“We haven’t yet been approved for ventilators out of the national stockpile,” he said. “I continue to press that case. I hope we will be cut in for a slice of what they have there.”

Price gouging

Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said the state is also encountering steep price increases as it buys face masks, with prices as much as four and five times higher than typical. The state has referred cases of price-gouging to its U.S. Attorney in the state.

The state received 110,000 masks on Saturday and all were distributed, he said. The personal protective equipment situation “appears to be getting a little bit better,” Bel Edwards said. “We hope it continues to improve over time.”

Bel Edwards praised the administration and Congress for quick work on the stimulus bill, signed last week by the president, and said state his officials are studying the details on what Louisiana will receive. “I’m not ready to say it’s not enough.”


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