Louisiana governor warns New Orleans could run out of ventilators by early April

Louisiana governor warns New Orleans could run out of ventilators by early April
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New Orleans could run out of ventilators, which are needed to keep seriously ill patients infected with the coronavirus alive, by the first week in April, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) warned Wednesday. 

“We could potentially run out of vents in the New Orleans area in the first week in April,” Edwards said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

The alarming lack of ventilators, machines that allow seriously ill patients to breathe, is one of the top concerns across the country, though Louisiana’s timeline for running out of the machines is particularly short. 

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Edwards said the state is trying to find more of the machines, but noted that Louisiana is competing with many other states and countries for the ventilators. 

“This is a very very difficult item to find because everyone is looking for them all at the same time,” he said. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) rang a similar alarm on Tuesday, saying the state needs 30,000 more ventilators before the peak of the virus hits the state in about 14 days. 

Like other governors, Cuomo is pressuring Trump to use his powers under the Defense Production Act to ramp up manufacturing of the crucial machines, which Trump has so far resisted. Instead the president is relying on voluntary pledges from companies to increase production. 

Edwards said the state is distributing 100 ventilators to the New Orleans area today and hopes to soon have 200 more, but even with those totals, the governor said that medical facilities would need an additional 600. 

“To say that demand is outpacing supply would be a gross understatement,” he said. 

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Louisiana is one of the centers of the outbreak in the United States, now with 1,795 cases and 65 deaths, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health

Edwards urged people to stay home and help slow the spread of the virus.

“We have not begun to flatten the curve yet,” he said. “We have a long way to go. We have to do better at our mitigation measures.”

“Our ventilator capacity is far from OK in Louisiana,” he warned.