OBESITY is a major reason why people in New Orleans are dying from the coronavirus at an alarming rate, experts say.
The per-capita death rate in The Big Easy is double that of New York CIty, the epicenter of the pandemic in the US.
Officials say high levels of obesity and related ailments are part of the problem in the city of 400,000.
“We’re just sicker,” said Rebekah Gee, the director of LSU's healthcare services division.
“We already had tremendous healthcare disparities before this pandemic – one can only imagine they are being amplified now.”
New Orleans has become one of the US hotspots for the virus along with The Big Apple and Seattle.
Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city, reported 125 confirmed coronavirus deaths as of today, the equivalent of 32 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people.
That rate for New York City was at 15.9 today.
About 97 per cent of those killed by COVID-19 in the state had a preexisting condition, according to health officials.
Diabetes was seen in 40 per cent of the deaths, obesity in 25 per cent, chronic kidney disease in 23 per cent and cardiac problems in 21 per cent.
“We had a case where a mom was already in the ICU and the daughter, who was obese, came in,” said Tracey Moffatt of Ochsner Health, the largest healthcare provider in the state.
“The daughter asked staff to wheel her by her mom’s room so she could say goodbye before she herself was intubated.
"We knew the mother was going to pass away.”
Both patients were obese, she said.
The CDC released a report showing that 78 per cent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs in the US had an underlying health condition.
“What we worry about here is that we have more people in our communities with those conditions,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the top public health official in New Orleans.
“We’re more vulnerable than other communities, and the number of deaths we’ve seen illustrates that.”
There have been more than one million coronavirus cases around the world, with more than 230,000 infected in the US.
Experts fear that 200,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus in the coming months.
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