Will Hurricane Laura’s evacuations, recovery efforts be fertile ground for spread of coronavirus?

BY JEFF ADELSON | Staff writer
Published in nola.com, Aug 29, 2020 at 9:00 am | Updated Aug 29, 2020 at 8:17 pm

There could be another layer to the pain, suffering and destruction wrought by Hurricane Laura this year: the toll the still-active coronavirus pandemic will take.

The mass evacuations that preceded the devastating storm, and the flurry of activity that will accompany the beginning of a recovery in southwest Louisiana, could prove to be fertile ground for new infections, experts fear. And despite precautions being put in place to minimize transmission and detect new cases, the agonizing disruptions that have accompanied one disaster could lead to yet another down the road.

State officials and public health experts say the combined effects of the storm and the pandemic are unknown and largely unprecedented, making it difficult to know exactly what their combined effects will be. But many expect there to be at least some increase in infections, largely among those who have already suffered through the storm or who are working to provide aid in its aftermath.

“If we think of Laura on top of COVID or COVID on top of Laura, its new and overwhelming,” said Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, an associate professor at the LSU Health Sciences School of Public Health and an expert in pandemics. “We’ve never had to deal with this before.”

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