NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the country.

Yet, the city and the state of Louisiana have largely been left out of the national COVID conversation.

Governor John Bel Edwards, D-Louisiana, has now sent a request to the White House, seeking a Major Disaster Declaration and federal aid.

“We think we might exceed our capacity to deliver healthcare to COVID 19 patients,” Edwards said. “It would be in the April 4 or 5 time-frame.”

Of the state’s nearly 1400 current coronavirus cases, 675 are in New Orleans and 293 in Jefferson Parish.

The numbers account for nearly 70 percent of Louisiana's known cases.

According to Dr. Rebekah Gee, CEO of the LSU Health System and former state health secretary, New Orleans is set to become an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We now think in large part Mardi Gras happened when this virus was circulating and 1.4 million people came to our city, many came from all over Louisiana to New Orleans, they caught beads, but also caught COVID-19,” Gee said.

Gee said Louisiana needs to be a higher priority when it comes to federal aid.

“I know we’re asking for additional personnel, additional equipment, and we’ll need to set up additional hospital capacity throughout the state and that declaration will allow for that,” Gee said.

Gee joined the chorus of voices now pleading with people to stay at home and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

“We want the public to take this seriously, not do what happened over the weekend and you know, a bingo pool party at the country club on the Northshore, type of thing,” Gee said. “People need to listen.”

Governor Edwards warns we are running out of time to get help.

“The number of cases in Louisiana continues to rise more drastically than we would like,” Edwards said.

The governor said being a good neighbor now means staying at home, donating blood and giving to your local food bank.

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