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Workers board up shop windows with plywood ahead of Hurricane Ida's arrival in New Orleans. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hospitals in New Orleans near capacity from a surge in coronavirus cases are bracing for Hurricane Ida, which is expected to hit Louisiana on Sunday.

The big picture: New Orleans is currently experiencing a severe virus outbreak, according to city data. About 68% of all hospital beds and 84% of all ICU beds in Louisiana are filled as Ida is approaching, Business Insider reports.

  • This month at a press briefing, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state's health care system "could have a major failure."

What they're saying: "Once again we find ourselves dealing with a natural disaster in the midst of a pandemic," said Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans public health director, per CNBC.

  • "Our plea and our hope is that everyone will prepare for both very seriously and very thoroughly."

What's happening: Hospitals and medical centers in New Orleans are preparing for the dual emergency by increasing staff, ordering more medical supplies and limiting the amount of patients in hospitals who are there with non-emergencies, CNBC notes.

  • Since Hurricane Katrina, hospitals in the city have learned to prepare for natural disasters, and already have plans in case there are power outages and water loss, for example.

Between the lines: New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Friday told residents that there was no time to evacuate and they should be ready to ride out Ida at home.

Go deeper: Hurricane Ida to hit Louisiana Sunday as a Category 4 storm

Go deeper

Updated Oct 26, 2021 - Health

Prime minister flags vaccine mandate for 40% of New Zealand workforce

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an October COVID-19 briefing in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Robert Kitchin - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses, as the government pushes to reach a nationwide 90% vaccination target.

Why it matters: Under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, businesses must require vaccine certificates from customers if they're in close contact with them. Ardern said at a briefing Tuesday that such venues wishing to operate, including hair salons, bars, restaurants and gyms, must ensure staff is vaccinated.

Oct 26, 2021 - Health

New York City police union files lawsuit against vaccine mandate

Combination images of New York City Patrolman Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images/David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New York City's biggest police union filed a lawsuit Monday against Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all NYC public employees.

Why it matters: The mandate requires all city employees to have had at least one dose by this Friday. They must show proof of vaccination or they'll be placed on unpaid leave. The Police Benevolent Association of New York tweeted Monday that it's seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the mandate, pending the outcome of its lawsuit.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Oct 26, 2021 - Health

FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-to-11-year-olds

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel Tuesday endorsed a two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5–11. The final vote was 17 members in favor, with one member abstaining.

Why it matters: While not binding, the decision is a long-awaited step toward getting COVID vaccines in the arms of some of the youngest Americans potentially in time to get many fully vaccinated in advance of the holiday season.