“New Orleans is a major gateway for people who are arriving here from other parts of the world,” said Richard Oberhelman, chair of the department of global community health and behavioral science at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. “Seeing cases first in New Orleans makes complete sense.”

Once here, the virus found a welcoming environment in houses crammed with multiple families, people with preexisting conditions and a dearth of drivers, according to an analysis by the Data Center, a research group in New Orleans.

Many low-income families live in overcrowded homes, raising the likelihood for virus spread, the report said. Around 24% of New Orleans residents live at the poverty level, higher than other coronavirus hotspots such as New York City (17%) and King County, Washington (9%).

Also, 1 in 5 of New Orleans households don’t have access to a car, meaning access to drive-thru testing can be limited, and nearly one-fourth don’t have access to the internet to follow city directives and access information, the report said.