As if we needed further proof that COVID-19 does not discriminate in favor of the famous, we learn that one of the National Football League’s record-setting field goal kickers has just died from COVID-19 complications in a New Orleans nursing home. 73-year old Tom Dempsey, who was born without fingers on his right hand and part of his right foot and yet kicked what was in 1970 the longest field goal (63 yards) in NFL history, died April 4 in New Orleans’ Lambeth House retirement home, where he had been a resident since 2012.
The State of Louisiana has become notorious for its initial unwillingness to take COVID-19 as seriously as other states, and now, predictably is paying the price, becoming one of the states with the fastest-growing rates of COVID-19 infections and related deaths. Included among the alarming number of Louisiana deaths are 15 residents of Lambeth House, where Dempsey had been a resident. 50 of its residents have tested positive for the virus, as of the date of Dempsey’s death.
But, rather than try to recover from its early ignorance, and get ahead of the virus through competence and transparency, the State of Louisiana has instead opted for shameful secrecy. Specifically, it has just reversed its previous policy and now will no longer make public the names of the nursing homes identified as having “clusters” of COVID-19. A “cluster” is defined as two or more related COVID-19 cases—information that is extremely valuable not only to public health officials but also to families whose loved ones are in one of the state’s nursing homes. Now, Louisiana will merely publish a list of the homes where there are confirmed infections and deaths. And it will now provide this information only twice a week, instead of daily, as had been its practice.