Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Sunday outlined his concerns with hospitals housing COVID-19 patients as Hurricane Ida nears landfall into the coast of southeastern Louisiana after intensifying overnight into Category 4 storm.
Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Edwards was pressed on Louisiana having one of the highest hospitalization rates in the country yet most of the major hospitals are not evacuating patients ahead of the storm.
Edwards acknowledged that the storm presents a “real challenge” to the recent “good news” of the state’s net inpatient centers being reduced by about 500, especially in southeast Louisiana.
“So, we did create just a little bit of additional capacity,” Edwards said. “But evacuating these large hospitals is just not an option because there’s not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them.”
Edwards said that over 20 nursing homes, along with some rehab facilities and behavioral health facilities were evacuated, but that it’s not possible to do the same with hospitals.
” So we know that they have been working extremely hard. They all have generators. They all have the fuel on hand and the extra food and the things that they’re going to need,” Edwards said. “But quite frankly, the wind, we expect, will cause power outages across much of southeast Louisiana. It’s impossible today to say how long the power will be out.”
Edwards added that power outages would have dire effects on water delivery to hospitals and keeping ventilators on, which prompted federal partners to prepare by having additional generators at hand for hospitals to use.
“This is a major, major storm that’s going to test us in ways that we’ve not been tested before, for a lot of reasons,” Edwards said. “But this COVID situation is certainly one of them.”
Louisiana currently holds the country’s third-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, with about 3,400 new cases reported on Friday alone. In a press briefing on Saturday, Edwards said that there were 2,450 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and that hospitals are still over capacity, putting the state in a “very precarious position.”
President Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration ahead of Hurricane Ida making landfall, allowing the activation of federal resources for states hard-hit by the storm. The declaration deployed more than 2,000 employees to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Seven FEMA incident managements team are being deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi.
Watch Edward’s remarks below:
.@LouisianaGov on Hurricane Ida: “This is a major, major storm that is going to test us in ways that we've not been tested before for a lot of reasons, but this COVID situation is certainly one of them.” pic.twitter.com/p1Rrc9vtQW
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 29, 2021