Louisiana Seeking Bids for “Mass Fatality Services” Contracts As COVID-19 Spike Continues

The State of Louisiana has issued an Emergency Request for Quotation (RFQ) for “mass fatality” services in light of an ongoing and “significant” spike in COVID-19 positive cases. The RFQ was posted on the Louisiana Department of Health website on Feb. 4. According to the RFQ, contracts will last a minimum of 12 months, which may be extended for up to 24 additional months, for a total of three years.

While this does not mean that mass fatalities are already occurring – it does mean that the state is preparing in the event that they do.

“Should one or more of Louisiana’s parishes/regions become overwhelmed with the number of human remains that require refrigerated storage, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and other state agencies may have to establish temporary storage sites(s),” the RFQ states. The location and number of sites that to be activated will be determined by LDH in consultation with GOHSEP, however, “for planning purposes, the primary location will be a storage site located within Region 2.” Region 2 of Louisiana includes East and West Baton Rouge, Iberville, Ascension, Pointe Coupee, and East and West Feliciana Parishes.

With Super Bowl weekend upon us and Mardi Gras weekend approaching, health officials and politicians across the state have expressed concern at the potential for large gatherings and superspreader events. On Friday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced a  number of new restrictions aimed at mitigating crowds and controlling the spread of COVID-19 over the weekend, including closing all bars and restricting pedestrian traffic on Bourbon Street. However, many have been concerned over Cantrell’s mixed messaging throughout the pandemic as she has attempted balancing the city’s tourism-driven economic needs with public health and safety concerns.

Shortages of the COVID-19 vaccine have led to widespread frustration, particularly in New Orleans. In January, more than 21,000 people in New Orleans were notified that their vaccination appointments had been pushed back to Feb. or even March. This led many to make the drive into Mississippi to seek vaccination there.

On Feb 4 – the day the RFQ was posted – Louisiana surpassed 9,000 COVID-19 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. On Friday, the LDH reported 2,003 new coronavirus cases statewide, with an additional 43 deaths. There are currently 1,166 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state, with more than 10 percent of them (143) on ventilators.

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