The coronavirus has been a far deadlier threat in New Orleans than the rest of the United States, with a per-capita death rate twice that of New York City.
Doctors, public health officials and available data say the Big Easy's high levels of obesity and related ailments may be part of the problem.
'We're just sicker,' said Rebekah Gee, who until January was the health secretary for Louisiana and now heads Louisiana State University's healthcare services division.
New Orleans (above during the lockdown) remains a national virus hotspot. The death toll in the city is now at 409. The city's Mardi Gras celebrations had been blamed for the causing the virus to spread so rapidly across the state but underlying health conditions are also to blame
Carondelet Street lies deserted in the early afternoon during shelter in place orders to slow the spread of coronavirus disease in an aerial photograph in New Orleans, Louisiana
A convention center in New Orleans has been converted into a makeshift hospital specifically to treat COVID-19 patients
'We already had tremendous healthcare disparities before this pandemic - one can only imagine they are being amplified now.'
As of Saturday New Orleans reported 12,496cases and 409 deaths.
'We have more than our fair share of people who have the comorbidities that make them especially vulnerable,' said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to the Wall Street Journal.
New Orleans could run out of ventilators and hospital beds by the end of next week.
Members of the media tour the field hospital setup for coronavirus patients at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans
The convention center will start taking patients on Sunday with room for 1,000 COVID-19 positive patients to alleviate stress on local hospitals
Doctors say obesity and related ailments, such as diabetes and hypertension, may be part of the problem. Pictured: State Rep R Dewith Carrier (R- District 32) has his temperature taken as he arrives at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge last week
St. John the Baptist Parish - 39.69
Orleans Parish - 37.93
St. Charles Parish - 20.72
Jefferson Parish - 19.65
St. James Parish - 18.96
New York City - 18.86
Plaquemines Parish - 17.25
Source: John Hopkins University
Along with New York and Seattle, New Orleans has emerged as one of the early U.S. hot spots for the coronavirus, making it a national test case for how to control and treat the disease it causes.
Chief among the concerns raised by doctors working in the Louisiana city is the death rate, which is twice that of New York and over four times that of Seattle, based on Thursday's publicly reported data.
New Orleans residents suffer from obesity, diabetes and hypertension at rates higher than the national average, conditions that doctors and public health officials say can make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
Some 97% of those killed by COVID-19 in Louisiana had a pre-existing condition, according to the state health department.
Diabetes was seen in 40% of the deaths, obesity in 25%, chronic kidney disease in 23% and cardiac problems in 21%.
Orleans Parish, which encompasses New Orleans, has a rate of 37.93 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. Pictured: Elena Likaj, prevention department manager at Odyssey House Louisiana began testing bikers for coronavirus at a drive-thru testing station in the city
Medical workers screen people seeking testing at a drive-thru testing center for the new coronavirus in New Orleans. Even as many follow Gov. John Bel Edwards' stay-home order, health care workers worry if they'll have enough medics and equipment to meet the demandsonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city, reported 153 confirmed coronavirus deaths as of Friday, the equivalent of 37.93 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. That rate for New York City was at 18.86 on Friday.
'It's an easy scapegoat to say, oh, Louisiana is doing poorly on deaths per hospitalization because this