Ventilators in Short Supply as Number of Coronavirus Patients in Louisiana Doubles Overnight

As the number of coronavirus patients has risen in Louisiana, so has the need for ventilators, according to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.

Ventilators have become a limited commodity in Louisiana as the number of coronavirus patients who require the machinery practically doubled between Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 94 coronavirus patients required ventilators on Tuesday. On Wednesday, that number shot up to 163 patients.

"If our growth continues, we could potentially run out of vents in the New Orleans area in the first week of April," Edwards said during a Wednesday press conference. "This is a very very difficult item to find because everyone is looking for them all at the same time."

Newsweek reached out to the Louisiana Department of Health but did not receive a response in time for publication.

john bel edwards
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Wednesday that New Orleans could run out of ventilators by the first week of April during the coronavirus pandemic. Joe Raedle/Getty

Because of the dearth of hospital beds in the area, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Wednesday that the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans would be used as a "surge hospital," used to house less-critical patients.

Fewer than 10,000 of Louisiana's 22,142 hospital beds were available Wednesday with less than 1,400 beds available in parishes hit hardest by the coronavirus.

"As people move through recovery or move towards recovery, they will then be transitioned and be located to the Morial Convention Center," Cantrell told WWL. "They can continue to get the service, continue to get better and the resources that they need, but also free up space at our hospitals for those who are suffering at a higher and greater level."

Governor Edwards ordered Louisiana residents to stay at home in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. State office buildings and non-essential businesses were closed. Some activities were not prohibited, such as meeting outside, as long as no more than 10 people were in a group and social distancing was practiced.

Although rumors of martial law being enforced in Louisiana circulated on social media after National Guard units were activated to assist with coronavirus-related support activities, National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force General Joseph Lengyel said on Tuesday that would not be the case.

"Help stop this rumor about the utilization of the National Guard in some sort of a military sense to quarantine America or to participate in law enforcement activities for shelter-in-place," Lengyel said. "We're not doing that. There has been no discussion of using the National Guard in that way."

President Donald Trump activated the National Guard in Washington, California and New York on Sunday. Governors of those states will be in command of National Guard units, but their activities will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New York has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. with recent data indicating 30,811 positive cases in the state. California has reported nearly 3,000 positive cases while Washington has reported 2,588 positive cases of the virus.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the distribution of COVID-19 cases around the United States as of March 25 at 6 a.m.

This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of March 25. Statista

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.