Researchers are sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples isolated from patients to tease out how the virus arrived in New Orleans and whether the city's Mardi Gras celebrations may have affected its spread, Nola.com reports.
New Orleans has been hard hit by the pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 Dashboard, Orleans Parish has had 6,169 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 344 deaths, as of this morning's update.
Nola.com says the Ochsner Health System and the Louisiana-based BioInfoExperts, a biological analysis service, plan to sequence 100 SARS-CoV-2 samples from the New Orleans area. So far, they've only analyzed two samples, which in combination with a sample from Baton Rouge, suggest the viruses in the region may have arrived there from the Pacifc Northwest. This early finding surprised the researchers, Nola.com says.
"Given Mardi Gras, we expected to see a lot of variation," Amy Feehan, a research scientist at Ochsner, tells Nola.com. "Those were very closely related. Maybe that's the luck of the draw, but moving forward I would expect to see some that are not so closely related."