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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: UrbanFootprint; Note: Colored by census blocks and grouped by county-level urban/rural classification; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driven by a dramatic rise in unemployment, more than 1 in 3 Louisiana residents now lives in food insecure communities due to COVID-19, according to an analysis by data firm Urban Footprint.

Why it matters: People living in food deserts — usually more than a mile from a supermarket in a city or more than 10 miles in rural areas — have to make difficult choices between meeting basic needs like health care and food.

  • With drastically reduced public transit operations, many residents don't have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

The big picture: Food insecurity is increasing across the nation.

  • Before COVID-19, about 37 million Americans were considered food insecure.
  • That number has risen 46% since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, in an April interview with McKinsey.
  • The pandemic has exposed long-running vulnerabilities and stark inequalities in resource distribution, in both rural and urban areas.

Zooming in: Louisiana ranks third in the nation for risk of food insecurity, following the District of Columbia and Georgia. Nearly half of newly food insecure communities are small towns and unincorporated rural areas.

  • 1.6 million Louisiana residents now live in food insecure communities, an increase of more than 500,000 since the beginning of the crisis.
  • Food insecurity has jumped dramatically in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where approximately 65%  of residents live in food insecure communities. 
  • The top five food insecure cities in Louisiana are Monroe, New Orleans, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.

Details: Urban Footprint worked with Center for Planning Excellence, a Louisiana nonprofit, to assess the state's food insecurity levels, tracking changes in social vulnerability, economic stress, health risk and accessibility.

  • While these factors all influence the increase in food insecurity, the steep climb in unemployment across the state (now 35%) has been the biggest driver, said Joe DiStefano, CEO and co-founder of Urban Footprint.
  • New Orleans now has a 51% unemployment rate, followed by 49% in Chalmette and 45% in Terrytown.

What's next: Pop-up food pantries can be placed at schools and churches in food desert neighborhoods to boost access, ideally allowing residents to be within a 10-minute walk of a grocery store or food outlet that sells healthy options.

Go deeper: How the coronavirus is disrupting the global food supply

Go deeper

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Aug 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

15-minute cities are making a comeback

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

One result of our sustained stay-at-home situation is a heightened interest in staying close to home even after the pandemic subsides.

Enter the 15-minute city, a "complete neighborhood" that centers around the idea that residents can meet most of their daily needs by walking or bicycling a short distance — i.e., 15 to 20 minutes — from their homes.

1 hour ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

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