New Orleans Mayor Cantrell recommends no festivals for 2020 due to coronavirus
Mayor LaToya Cantrell put New Orleans on notice Tuesday that the festivals and major events postponed by the coronavirus outbreak may not be happening this year at all.
In a press conference at City Hall to update residents on the city’s coronavirus response, Cantrell said she was recommending that the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and other large events be put on hold for the rest of 2020, a move that would keep potential visitors from igniting a new COVID-19 outbreak even if it choked off the city’s tourism-focused economy for several more months.
Her staff later said it was too soon to discuss the possibility of an executive order to that effect, but said that Cantrell has been in touch with some festival organizers about her wishes.
“My opinion is all of that should be pushed back, period,” Cantrell said. “Absolutely no large events as it relates to the year of 2020.”
The recommendation, if enacted, would mean the cancellation of this year’s Jazz Fest, which was postponed until the fall, as well as the Essence Festival of Culture, the French Quarter Festival and a host of other events that together bring millions of tourists to the city and have either been postponed or were still planned for later this year.
When calling for the festival cancellations, Cantrell said she worried not just about New Orleans’ progress in “flattening the curve” and reducing the number of cases — and deaths — from the pandemic, but about the progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in other states that might have residents who travel to New Orleans for those events.
While New Orleans saw some of the fastest growth in coronavirus cases in the U.S. in recent weeks, Louisiana was also among the earliest states to shutter schools and close non-essential businesses in order to slow the spread. Some nearby states have taken longer to enact those restrictions, raising concerns that lifting restrictions in Louisiana could invite reinfection from other areas that experience outbreaks later.
Cantrell’s comments come as city officials have repeatedly urged residents to stay home except to go to essential jobs, buy groceries and get exercise. They also come as New Orleans has weathered national media criticism for proceeding with Mardi Gras, despite the lack of warnings at the time from federal health officials and the many other large gatherings that were still occurring across the U.S. during that period.
As of Tuesday, 21,518 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Louisiana, while the death toll reached 1,013 victims, according to state health officials.
In New Orleans, 32 more deaths were recorded in what Cantrell and city Health Department Director Jennifer Avegno said was a sobering reminder of the necessity of flattening the curve, even if it means cancelling popular events that draw large crowds.
“This is wartime; this is a battle,” Avegno said. “When you march into battle you have to give it everything…I would ask everybody, when you are thinking about going to that social, or having that gathering, is it worth it for a 5% chance of having your loved ones die?”
The mayor’s staff said her recommendation on events extends even to smaller gatherings on the city’s festival circuit, like the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, which planned to finalize its date this month.
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The dumb b!tch should have done that this year and now a lot people down there are paying for her screw up.