Weekend Review: Louisiana Braces for Battering from Ida
Hurricane Ida is coming ashore with winds reaching near Category 5 strength. Weather forecasts anticipate the storm to make landfall at Grand Isle, Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of an “extremely life-threatening storm surge” from the Gulf of Mexico to Mississippi. Destructive winds will likely knock down trees and power lines. Furthermore, levees could overtop in storm surges projected to reach 15 feet, though officials say they will hold.
The storm could also cause dangerous flooding as far north as Ohio moving ahead into the week.
Notably, 971 people in New Orleans died in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, almost exactly 16 years ago. Of all the deaths, more than half were Black individuals and almost half were people 75 years of age or older. Drowning caused the highest percentage of fatalities. Consequently, the city now has a $14.5 billion levee system, as well as the largest pump station in the world.
Raising concerns, Ida is nearing the 157 mph mark for a Category 5 hurricane even before making landfall. As a result, President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration for the state of Louisiana.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said there was no time to issue a mandatory evacuation, but urged the city’s nearly 400,000 residents to leave voluntarily. Those that remain will obviously face extreme weather risks and the possibility of long power outages.
Ida preparations made more arduous by increase in Covid-19 cases
Hospitals in the state are bracing for the storm while combatting a record outbreak of new Covid-19 cases. Last Tuesday, Louisiana reported the state’s highest single-day total for new deaths per day.
Unfortunately, non-emergency cases will receive limited care as medical teams prepare facilities for a dual emergency by increasing staff and supplies.
New Orleans Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avengo urged residents to get vaccines. Unvaccinated individuals account for a majority of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
President and CEO of Ochsner Health Warner Thomas told CNBC that health care systems across New Orleans are in “full disaster mode” but feel prepared for what comes. “This is just something that, being in Louisiana, we’re used to,” he said.
U.S. Carries Out Two Drone Strikes After Attack in Kabul, Afghanistan Kills 13 U.S. Troops
A deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan killed more than 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops on Thursday. This marked the deadliest incident for the US in Afghanistan in a decade. Furthermore, it killed the third most Americans in a single incident since 2001 when the war began.
This morning at Dove Air Force Base in Deleware, President and First Lady Biden met with families of the service members killed.
Over the weekend, the U.S. military carried out two retaliatory drone strikes. The first strike killed two alleged ISIS-K targets while the second targeted a car carrying suspected suicide bombers. According to the AP, U.S. officials believe they thwarted a plan to again attack with deadly violence the Kabul airport and ongoing evacuation efforts.
An affiliate of the Islamic State called ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out at a U.S. checkpoint. Importantly, ISIS-K is a nemesis of the Taliban, the group that has seized power in Afghanistan. Future attacks are likely as the extremist group challenges the Taliban’s hold on authority.
There are now two days left before the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from the country, with roughly 250 Americans left.
FDA Warns Against Self-Medicating with Anti-Parasitic Ivermectin
On Thursday, the CDC issued a health advisory warning that details the risks of using “products containing ivermectin to prevent or treat Covid-19”. There is not sufficient evidence to suggest the drug is helpful in the prevention or treatment of Covid.
Ivermectin treats parasitic infections and is not an anti-viral. It is available over-the-counter in formulas for veterinary use, not intended for humans.
The CDC notes, “Adverse effects associated with ivermectin misuse and overdose are increasing, as shown by a rise in calls to poison control centers reporting overdoses and more people experiencing adverse effects.”
The FDA also warns against using ivermectin to treat Covid-19 because it can cause “serious harm” in humans. The agency reports multiple cases of people who “required medical support and (hospitalization) after self-medicating.”