Seventeen-year-old dies from coronavirus in New Orleans as Louisiana sees 510 new cases in 24 hours


A 17-year-old from New Orleans has died from coronavirus as the city remains on track to become the next outbreak epicenter in the United States with one of the highest case growth rates in the world.  

More than 2,300 people in Louisiana have tested positive for COVID-19 and 83 people have died in the two and a half weeks since the state’s first patient was reported on March 9. 

The number of cases jumped by 510 in a single day on Thursday, up 28 percent from the night before, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Authorities have warned that hospitals could collapse by April 4 and that the state will run out of ventilators by the first week of next month if the case count continues to climb at its current daily rate of 65 percent.  

As concerns grow that Louisiana could spark a larger spread across the southern states, experts say the crisis in New Orleans was likely accelerated by Mardi Gras, the iconic celebration that saw millions of tourists flock to the Big Easy over a period of several weeks, culminating with Fat Tuesday on February 25. 

The New Orleans metro area accounts for almost half of Louisiana’s infections – with 997 reported in the city to date, more than the total number in all but 15 states. 

Orleans Parish, which includes the city, has suffered the highest number of deaths per capita of any county in the US with 46.  

The 17-year-old victim died Sunday, officials said, as he was named as Jaquan Anderson, an aspiring football player who attended a local public school. His dad Kevin Moran told Nola.com his son ‘died from heart failure’.

Moran said he was surprised by the coronavirus suggestion, adding: ‘People don’t want to let you heal. … I’m so upset.’ He said his son had not been ill in the days leading up to his death. 

Paying tribute he said: ‘He was a fun-loving kid. All he wanted to do was help his mom and dad — get to the NFL and take care of us.’

He is one of the two youngest reported across the US after another teen the same age died in Los Angeles earlier this week. 

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New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the United States with one of the highest growth in cases seen anywhere in the world. Officials are seen moving people from a homeless encampment at Duncan Plaza to temporary housing to protect them from the outbreak ravaging the city on Thursday 

Experts say the crisis in New Orleans was likely accelerated by Mardi Gras, the iconic celebration that unfolds across the city over a period of several weeks, culminating on February 25 (pictured)

Experts say the crisis in New Orleans was likely accelerated by Mardi Gras, the iconic celebration that unfolds across the city over a period of several weeks, culminating on February 25 (pictured)

Dr Rebekah Gee, who heads up Louisiana State University's health care services division, said: 'Mardi Gras was the perfect storm, it provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus. We shared floats where we were throwing not just beads but probably coronavirus off Carnival floats to people who caught it and took it with them to where they came from'

Dr Rebekah Gee, who heads up Louisiana State University’s health care services division, said: ‘Mardi Gras was the perfect storm, it provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus. We shared floats where we were throwing not just beads but probably coronavirus off Carnival floats to people who caught it and took it with them to where they came from’

A reveler walks through the French Quarter during Fat Tuesday celebrations on February 25. The city has now come to a halt as nearly 1,000 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 - accounting for about half of the cases in Louisiana

A reveler walks through the French Quarter during Fat Tuesday celebrations on February 25. The city has now come to a halt as nearly 1,000 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 – accounting for about half of the cases in Louisiana

Bourbon Street in the famed New Orleans French Quarter is seen empty on Wednesday  as residents shelter indoors

Bourbon Street in the famed New Orleans French Quarter is seen empty on Wednesday  as residents shelter indoors

Louisiana holds third-highest case count per capita in the US with fastest growth rate worldwide

Louisiana, which is home to about 4.6 million people, currently has the third-highest case load of coronavirus per capita in the US after the major epicenters of New York and Washington. 

The growth rate in Louisiana tops all others, according to a University of Louisiana at Lafayette analysis of global data. 

President Donald Trump issued a major federal disaster declaration for the state on Tuesday, freeing federal funds and resources. Only five states have been issued the declaration so far. 

Los Angeles boy, 17, becomes first US child to die of coronavirus

Health officials in Los Angeles County announced on Tuesday that a 17-year-old boy from Lancaster had died of coronavirus – marking the first fatal COVID-19 case involving a person under the age of 18 across the US.  

Just hours later, after California Governor Gavin Newsom cited the boy’s death as evidence the virus can strike anyone, officials said there may be an ‘alternate explanation’ and that his death would be further investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.     

‘Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality,’ officials said.   

The teen is not thought to have had any underlying health conditions until he recently started suffering from respiratory problems.

Lancaster Mayor R Rex Parris said the boy was treated in hospital but was released without being tested for coronavirus. 

He was then admitted to a second hospital where he died from septic shock, a reaction to a widespread infection that can cause dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure. 

The teen’s positive coronavirus test did not come back until after his death. 

His father, who is an Uber driver, has also since tested positive for coronavirus and is currently sick.   

The mayor said he doesn’t doubt that the teen died from complications of COVID-19, saying: ‘We’re the first city in the nation to lose a child and that is unbearable to me.’  

The escalating crisis in New Orleans – Louisiana’s largest city – has dashed hopes that less densely populated and warmer-climate cities would not be hit as hard by the pandemic and stoked fears of faster spread across neighboring southern states.  

On Thursday, the Louisiana Health Department revealed that coronavirus clusters have been reported at six nursing homes across the state, including three in New Orleans, one in Baton Rouge and one in Donaldsonville.  

In New Orleans, 11 people have died and dozens more have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Lambeth House facility. Four residents have tested positive at Vista Shores and at least two people were infected at Chateau de Notre Dame. 

In Baton Rouge, one resident and three employees were diagnosed at St. James Place. At least five cases were infected at Chateau D’Ville in Donaldsonville.  

Officials did not reveal the name or location of the sixth facility with a cluster, which is defined as two or more cases that appear to be connected.  

Of the 2,305 patients in Louisiana, around 30 percent (676) are currently hospitalized, with roughly half (239) requiring ventilation.  

Governor John Bel Edwards warned at a press conference on Wednesday that the state could run out of available ventilators by the first week of April if the case count continues to rise at its current rate. 

He said Louisiana was expected to receive 100 additional ventilators on Thursday and 100 more at the beginning of next week.

warned that even if they are received it is still 600 short of what is needed in the New Orleans area alone. 

‘Quite frankly, it is not enough,’ Edwards said, suggesting that the state is still 600 ventilators short of what is needed in the New Orleans area alone.  

The governor, who issued a statewide stay at home order on March 22, said residents need to ‘make sure you’re doing what we ask’ to flatten the curve before hospitals are overwhelmed.  

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose state accounts for more than half of the nations nearly 74,000 cases, offered some words of support to Louisiana at a press conference on Thursday. 

‘Louisiana is a quote unquote hot spot. It has a cluster that is growing and the people in Louisiana and in New Orleans are in our thoughts and prayers,’ Cuomo said.

‘We know what they’re going through and we feel for them, and we pray for them, and we know the difficulty they’re under, because we’re dealing with the same type of situation. 

‘So, our best to them. Any way we can help them, we stand ready.’ 

Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Louisiana hospitals could collapse by April 4 during a press briefing Wednesday

Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Louisiana hospitals could collapse by April 4 during a press briefing Wednesday

City officials cleared out a homeless encampment at Duncan Plaza on Thursday and moved people living there into temporary housing to protect them from coronavirus

City officials cleared out a homeless encampment at Duncan Plaza on Thursday and moved people living there into temporary housing to protect them from coronavirus

A city bus driver wears protective gear while transporting members of the homeless population

A city bus driver wears protective gear while transporting members of the homeless population 

People living at the homeless encampment in Duncan Plaza step off a bus with their belongings as they're dropped off at the temporary housing site - the Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans French Quarter

People living at the homeless encampment in Duncan Plaza step off a bus with their belongings as they’re dropped off at the temporary housing site – the Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans French Quarter 

Bourbon Street is seen eerily deserted on Wednesday after residents were urged to stay inside

Bourbon Street is seen eerily deserted on Wednesday after residents were urged to stay inside 

A man walks past a boarded-up business on Bourbon Street

A man walks past a boarded-up business on Bourbon Street 

Health experts point to Mardi Gras festivities as the catalyst for coronavirus outbreak: ‘The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator’ 

The culprit for the coronavirus in the Big Easy? Some blame Carnival.

‘Mardi Gras was the perfect storm, it provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus,’ said Dr Rebekah Gee, who until January was the Health Secretary for Louisiana and now heads up Louisiana State University’s health care services division.

She noted that Fat Tuesday fell on February 25, when the virus was already in the United States but before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national leaders had raised the alarm with the American public.

At this point, there were still less than 100 cases around the country.  

‘So New Orleans had its normal level of celebration, which involved people congregating in large crowds and some 1.4 million tourists,’ Gee said. 

 Mardi Gras was the perfect storm, it provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus.

 – Dr Rebekah Gee, former Louisiana Health Secretary

‘We shared drink cups. We shared each other’s space in the crowds. We shared floats where we were throwing not just beads but probably coronavirus off Carnival floats to people who caught it and took it with them to where they came from.’

Gee said that the explosive growth rate of the coronavirus in the Mississippi River port city means ‘it’s on the trajectory to become the epicenter for the outbreak in the United States’.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy also declared that people drinking during Mardi Gras caused coronavirus to spread in the state as they had weaker immune systems when they contracted the virus. 

Kennedy then blamed the lack of information as to why people were so willing to travel to New Orleans to take part in the boisterous activities towards the end of February.

‘We’re a hot spot,’ the conservative politician said in a segment with Fox News. ‘It started in New Orleans. It’s moving into the rest of the state.’ 

He continued: ‘I think it has a lot to do with Mardi Gras. I think our friends in China were worried about their image more than the world’s health and sat on the news about this virus for longer than they should have. 

‘We held Mardi Gras. People flew in from all over the world. We were in close quarters. One or two had too much to drink and lowered their immune system. They diminished their immune systems and we got a problem.’ 

Fat Tuesday, the big celebration that caps off weeks of Mardi Gras festivities, fell on February 25 this year, when COVID-19 was already in the US but before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national leaders had raised the alarm with the American public. Revelers are seen on Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday, the big celebration that caps off weeks of Mardi Gras festivities, fell on February 25 this year, when COVID-19 was already in the US but before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national leaders had raised the alarm with the American public. Revelers are seen on Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday

About 1.4 million people are said to have attended the Mardi Gras parade on February 25 (pictured)

About 1.4 million people are said to have attended the Mardi Gras parade on February 25 (pictured)

Dr Peter Hotez is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College, a renowned vaccine scientist and an expert on the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the rapid grip the virus is gaining on New Orleans was deeply worrying and a possible harbinger for worse to come across the south and for less densely populated and warmer cities across America.

‘There has been some research and data suggesting that warmer, more humid weather could slow this epidemic,’ he said. 

‘The fact that this occurred on the Gulf Coast, which has some of the higher humidity and temperatures in the US, is a serious concern.’

Hotez noted that more research into how climate does or does not play a role in the spread of this coronavirus needs to happen, but acknowledged that experts hoped that warm weather and the coming summer months in the northern hemisphere would be natural buffers against it.

‘If you look at this epidemic, we’ve not seen much in the hotter parts of the country. Texas has not had a lot. Arizona has not had a lot. Then all of a sudden – bam! – it appears in strength in New Orleans,’ he said. 

‘We have to follow this trend closely.’

Nearly 74,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 1,074 have died across the US as of Thursday afternoon. New York state accounts for more than half of the nation's cases with 37,258 infections, including 385 deaths

Nearly 74,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 1,074 have died across the US as of Thursday afternoon

Having an entirely new coronavirus epicenter kick off means that the United States may soon be dealing with multiple hot spots all at once, Hotez said, a worst-case scenario that could cripple healthcare systems.

If predictions were correct, the hospitals in New Orleans would struggle to manage past next week, Edwards told a news conference on Tuesday.

New Orleans could well be the first major domino to fall in the south, starting a chain reaction in other metro areas in the region, said Hotez.

That is a serious concern for Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country and a major center for the oil industry. 

The two cities have historically strong links made even more so by an influx of New Orleans residents into Houston following hurricanes Katrina and Harvey.

On the ground in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, residents said they were definitely concerned, but that the virus was an entirely different threat from the natural disasters that routinely befall the city.

Jonathan Sanders, a 35-year-old general manager of the French Quarter brasserie Justine, said the city was calm and residents largely heeding authorities orders to stay inside.

‘There is always something going on at all hours of the day or night. Now, without it all, it’s very peaceful,’ he said. 

‘You can park anywhere in the French Quarter.’

The virus, Sanders said, was so far easier to deal with than the death and destruction Hurricane Katrina unleashed in 2005, when over 1,800 people died along the Gulf Coast.

‘When you think of the total destruction of Katrina… that was gut wrenching,’ he said. 

‘We’re fairly more resilient than other places that haven’t had so many tragic things happen to their city.’

New York state - which leads the nation in infections and deaths - is beginning to show tentative signs of curbing the spread, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday

New York state – which leads the nation in infections and deaths – is beginning to show tentative signs of curbing the spread, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday

As New Orleans outbreak worsens, current US epicenter in New York City shows signs of relief 

While the coronavirus health crisis deepens in New Orleans, New York state – which leads the nation in infections and deaths – is beginning to show tentative signs of curbing the spread, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.   

The rate of hospitalizations in New York has slowed in recent days, Cuomo said, with numbers he called ‘almost too good to be true’.

The governor also hailed the enlistment of 40,000 retired nurses, physicians and other medical professionals signing up for a ‘surge health care force’, but warned much remains to be done.

In an ominous sign he and other governors are preparing for the worst, the states of New York, North Carolina and Hawaii requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency send special mortuary teams that can be deployed for mass casualties, FEMA said on Wednesday. 

It came as fatalities jumped in New York City – home to more than eight million people – as some largely empty streets were closed to vehicle traffic to allow more room for pedestrians to walk with greater ‘social distancing’.

At a news conference, Cuomo said the city also would ban basketball and other contact sports in public parks, while lamenting the challenges posed by dense populations.

‘Our closeness makes us vulnerable,’ he said. 

By Thursday afternoon, the number of cases in New York state jumped to 37,258, including 385 deaths. 

More than 21,300 infections and 280 deaths have been reported in New York City alone.   

Patients wearing personal protective equipment wait outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital on Wednesday

Patients wearing personal protective equipment wait outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital on Wednesday

New York City has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, with more than 21,300 cases and 280 deaths from the virus as of Thursday afternoon

New York City has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, with more than 21,300 cases and 280 deaths from the virus as of Thursday afternoon

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