Louisiana cancer-ridden county known for toxic air pollution tops NYC for highest coronavirus death rate


A parish in Louisiana once dubbed “cancer alley” after making headlines because of its high polluting of the environment is now reporting the best coronavirus death count in the united states, according to a written report.

St. John the Baptist parish sits about 30 miles from New Orleans on the Mississippi River. It is sparsely populated and houses about 43,000 people.

Dr. Christy Montegut, the coroner in St John the Baptist parish, said he recorded 30 deaths in the parish associated with COVID-19. That’s an interest rate of 68.7 per 100,000 people, The Guardian reported. The death count in NEW YORK, which is the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, stands at 29 per 100,000.

Inside a White House briefing Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the federal coronavirus response, said the parish would join the set of counties around the united states being monitored because of their coronavirus outbreaks alongside more densely populated hot spots in NY, California and Washington status.
A worker rests alongside Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, normally bustling with tourists, however now practically deserted because of the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

An employee rests alongside Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, normally bustling with tourists, but now nearly deserted because of the new coronavirus pandemic, Friday, March 27, 2020.

St. John the Baptist parish houses a petrochemical plant possessed by japan firm Denka. In 2015, environmentally friendly Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) map revealed those who lived near to the Denka plant, in the parish’s largest city of LaPlace, were at the highest risk of developing a cancer brought on by airborne toxins.

Residents and community medical researchers have suggested there’s a connection between high rates of polluting of the environment in the St. John the Baptist parish and the high death rate due to COVID-19, a respiratory illness very much like pneumonia. Research to aid those says is new and hasn’t been conclusive, based on the Guardian.

“The Denka facility has been releasing toxic chemicals into the air for 50 years. All of the community have some kind of respiratory impact, some more than others. But they’re already very vulnerable,” Wilma Subra, an environmental scientist and community advocate, told The Guardian. “And then you add the contact with the virus, which has a huge effect on the lungs, they are a lot more more likely to obtain it and then to possess very detrimental effects.”

Dr. Michael Jerrett, an environmental health sciences professor at the UCLA Fielding School of General public Health, told The Guardian polluting of the environment escalates the risk for pneumonia but further studies would need to be conducted before he could conclude polluting of the environment has an identical effect with COVID-19.

“Being in areas of higher contact with common air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter, does improve the threat of acquiring pneumonia,” he said. “So to the degree that COVID behaves similarly to bacterial pneumonia, which is more prevalent, or other viral pneumonias, we’ve evidence that long term subjection well increases your susceptibility to acquiring the condition.”

Denka has denied its plant is in charge of the high fatality rate of COVID-19 patients locally, claiming status officials have said other factors, including high instances of diabetes and obesity in residents, could also be at play.

“In this time around of fear and uncertainty, we are all working hard to help with making sure everyone has accurate and necessary information. We want to help the people inside our community by connecting them with facts. There is no reason to think that DPE’s procedures could contribute to an increased risk from COVID-19,” Denka spokesman Jim Harris said.
Louisiana cracking down on open public gatherings as COVID-19 spreadsVideo

“Talk about officials are reporting other factors may increase dangers from the virus, including diabetes and obesity, both which Louisiana has higher-than-average rates of,” he added.

Louisiana is the fifth most infected condition in the country, recording at least 14,867 confirmed conditions. It ranks fourth in the countrywide tally of COVID-19 fatalities, with at least 512 deaths. The outbreak of the virus in the state has been associated with considerable Mardi Gras celebrations in late February, when hundreds lined the streets for parades in New Orleans.

Within a press conference Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said Louisiana “might be seeing the beginning of the flattening of the curve.”

“While all volumes are still high we’re beginning to see real signals these mitigation measures are beginning to yield real results,” he said, based on the News-Star. “The info things we’re seeing is only going to become a trend if we continue steadily to follow the stay-at-home order. We must keep writing.”

Meanwhile, St. John the Baptist parish doesn’t have a morgue, ventilators or a clinic. Therefore, COVID-19 patients must be carried for health care at hospitals in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. Funeral directors are racing to bury bodies. Anticipating a surge in fatalities next 2 weeks, Montegut has asked their state for a refrigerator truck to store the lifeless, The Guardian reported.

St. John parish President Jaclyn Hotard released Monday the sheriff’s team would be facilitating drive-thru screening stations this week amid a recently available spike in instances, Fox 8 reported.