Christians across the United States gathered outside hospitals this week to pray for medical staff and their patients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In Louisiana, the faithful gathered in the front parking lot at Terrebonne General Medical Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday when local residents were invited to cover the medical facility and all inside in prayer, the Houma Times reported.
“The concept is that sometimes we feel helpless in the community. We know what’s going on and want to help, but there’s only so much you can do. This is an opportunity for us. We can all do this,” said Jaime Gaudet, who is one of the event’s organizers.
“The people that are patients or providers in the hospital, they get tired and they’re missing their family.”
The town of Houma is located approximately 60 miles southwest of New Orleans and has a population of approximately 33,000.
Those who attended the prayer gathering were instructed to practice social distancing so as not to risk spreading infection.
"When you get into crisis situations, that’s when anxiety and fear, those things take over,” she said. “When you just immerse yourself in prayer, a lot of those feelings go away and they’re replaced with a peace; they are replaced with a hope.”
On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 2,726 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 9,150 cases and the death toll to 310.
“While extremely upsetting, this increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be less a sign of new exponential growth and more a sign of a logjam from commercial labs,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “I am pleased to see a ramp up in testing across the state.
“I have said time and again — COVID-19 is a statewide problem and testing is a vital step toward understanding the scale of this problem. We believe COVID-19 is spreading in every parish in Louisiana,” the governor added.
“The situation remains concerning, but every Louisianan has the power to change the path we are on. Think of your neighbors, and please stay at home,” he stressed.
The public health crisis has led more Americans to turn to prayer.
The Pew Research Center surveyed 11,537 U.S. adults from March 19-24 and in which 55 percent said they prayed for an end to the spread of coronavirus.
Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found in a separate study that during the month of March, internet searches for prayer “surged to the highest level during the past five years for which comparative Google search data is available, surpassing all other major events that otherwise instigate intensified demand for prayer, such as Christmas, Easter, and Ramadan.”
The professor analyzed internet searches for prayer in 75 different countries and reported that “search intensity for prayer doubled for every 80,000 new registered cases of COVID-19.”
Like other large cities in the U.S., New Orleans has been labeled as a "hotspot" for its high rate of infection even after the self-quarantine order, which means many residents are not staying indoors as officials have advised.