Having no nationwide testing and contact tracing protocol several months into the pandemic is taking its toll in Louisiana, and especially in its predominantly African-American communities in Cancer Alley.
It pains retired Lt. General Russel Honoré to watch the United States lose the war against COVID-19, but it does not surprise him. A federal disaster response expert, Honoré coordinated military relief efforts in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and is credited with restoring order to the city. He has advocated for the federal government to tap the military to set up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing nationwide since the pandemic began spreading rapidly across the United States.
President Trump put the responsibility of testing and contact tracing on the states, which would then report those results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, on July 15, his administration quietly ordered hospitals to send all COVID-19 patient data directly to a central database managed by a private firm instead of the CDC. Some worry that with the Trump administration controlling this data through a non-public database, it could downplay the pandemic. But the administration said the change was made to speed up the reporting of cases