New Orleans is the most affected US city in terms of coronavirus death rate after New York and Seattle. Its death rate is twice the death rate of New York and four times of Seattle. "We had enormous difference in the healthcare sector and it is comparatively sound now," Rebekah Gee, former health secretary of Louisiana, told Reuters.

New Orleans has become the latest coronavirus hot spot in the US. Health officials say patients with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Almost 97 per cent of those who died from coronavirus in Louisiana had pre-existing conditions. The state health department observed diabetes in 40 per cent of deaths, obesity in 25 per cent, kidney disease in 23 per cent, and cardiac problems in 21 per cent.

Most of those who died in New Orleans suffered from diabetes, obesity and hypertension, making the death rate higher than the national average. Louisiana also reported 125 deaths in Orleans Parish as of Thursday.

Coronavirus status as of 4 April, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 4 April, 2020 GISAID

Obesity a major culprit

New Orleans could be ringing alarming bells for other regions that have higher rates of diabetes, obesity and hypertension. There could be other factors too that have contributed to the high death rate in New Orleans like poor health care facilities and patients having lung diseases. Health officials said conditions related to obesity are a major factor in deaths across the nation.

Cases such as father-son and mother-daughter are being treated in the same intensive care units, said Tracey Moffatt chief nursing officer at Ochsner Health, Louisiana. She said pre-existence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension plays an important role in the deaths of patients in Louisiana.

There have been 12,496 cases confirmed Covid-19 cases and 409 deaths in Louisiana so far. The United States as a whole has reported more than 312,000 cases with the death toll crossing 8,500 since the country reported its first case on January 21 at Snohomish, Washington.