CANTRELL RAMPS UP RESTRICTIONS & TESTING
By C.C. Campbell-Rock
An uptick in coronavirus spread across Louisiana in late June caused Governor John Bel Edwards to cancel the move to Phase 3 of reopening the state. When Edwards made the announcement around June 22, Louisiana had about 50,000 coronavirus cases, 3,000 deaths, and the hospitalization rate was increasing.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell moved New Orleans into the Phase Two reopening guidelines more than a month ago. Following CDC recommendations, the city’s “Safer at Home,” phase called for residents to continue to stay home except for essential needs and other permitted activities; masks were mandatory for everyone, frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces, and social distancing guidelines had to be followed. The city was offering testing to anyone who asked and approximately 150 tests were conducted daily.
However, most recently, Louisiana found itself in the Yellow Zone of the Federal Coronavirus Task Force, which deemed the state #1 in the country for the most COVID-19 cases per capita.
A look at the numbers show that the state, which had been flattening the curve is now seeing a spike in coronavirus cases. . Over a one-month period, the number of cases statewide has more than doubled to 116,280, with 3, 835 deaths, 1,524 hospitalized, and 205 people on ventilators.
Local Parishes Lead in Cases and Deaths
Orleans Parish had the most deaths in the state, 560, with the majority, 417, being black residents and 10,204 cases, Jefferson Parish had the most cases statewide at 13,872, but slightly trailed New Orleans with 510 deaths.
People not adhering to the guidelines and inadequate testing are responsible for the spike in cases. Since testing began in Orleans Parish, the city has tested about 31% of the parish’s 391,006 residents. The city has also struggled to get an adequate amount of testing supplies and PPE (personal protective equipment).
Known for being a tough and no-nonsense leader, Cantrell put her foot down when she recently announced new restrictions to curb the community spread of COVID-19.
“There has been an almost doubling of the daily average cases to approximately twice the threshold of 50 cases a day. There’s been an increase in the positivity rate from 2-3 percent to over 6 percent. There also has been a more than doubling of the COVID-19 positive hospitalization rates with overall saturation of the local healthcare system, as well as increased overflow burden from the rest of the state and Mississippi. This is a clear indication that the city has returned to widespread community transmission,” a release from the Mayor noted.
Mayor Cantrell Taking All Precautions
Cantrell’s new restrictions ban the sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants. “We understand the impact this is having on our bar community. Moving into Phase Two, we were very much focused on our economy and those industries that make up that community. Unfortunately, we have seen the negative impact that has had on the City of New Orleans,” said Mayor Cantrell. “What happens next depends on what we do right now.”
Speaking to the concerns around reopening schools, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director, New Orleans Health Department, said, “Our primary goal at this point in the pandemic is to suppress the virus so that we can safely send kids back to school. And looking at the trends in new cases — many of which continue to be linked to social gatherings and bars — we do not believe we will get there under the current restrictions,” she said.
Council Member Kristin Palmer: Citizens First
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who represents the French Quarter, added, “Mayor Cantrell has taken courageous steps today to protect the citizens of New Orleans. Her bold actions will save lives, and I, too, am asking bars and businesses to adhere to the regulations to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our city. I support Mayor Cantrell’s decision to prohibit the takeout of alcoholic beverages, especially after seeing recent photos from Bourbon Street showing crowds of people in close proximity…We have to put the health of our citizens first.”
Other Phase 2 guidelines remain the same. Indoor gatherings are limited to 25 individuals; outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 individuals; and all gathering participants must wear masks and practice social distancing.
Dr. Avegno also announced that the federal government is sending surge testing resources to New Orleans. These resources will allow the City to significantly increase the number of daily tests.
Testing is open to everyone, there is no ID or health insurance required and no appointment is needed. Check for Walk-up and Mobile testing sites and dates near you: https://ready.nola.gov/home/
New Orleans Resources
The New Orleans Health Department has partnered with LCMC Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, CORE Response, and Ochsner Health, to offer free, walk-up COVID-19 testing in hard-hit New Orleans neighborhoods. Results are expected to be online or delivered within two to three days by calling 3-1-1. Testing is also available at many healthcare facilities, hospitals, and clinics in New Orleans. Some facilities have their own criteria for who is eligible for a test, so we suggest you call first.
Healthcare facilities offering testing in New Orleans include:
Crescent Care (M-F 9am – 2pm)
1631 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70117
Testing everyone, regardless of symptoms
Both insured and uninsured are welcome.
DePaul Community Health Centers
See 10 locations. https://www.depaulcommunityhealthcenters.org/locations
LCMC Health Urgent Care – Lakeview
826 Harrison Ave, Ste. A
New Orleans, LA 70124
If you have questions about COVID-19 and don’t have a PCP. Call a 24 hour Nurse’s Hotline at: (504) 962-6202 for LCMC. (800) 231-5257 for Ochsner.
Pre-registration is available but is not required. Individuals who pre-register at https://doineedacovid19test.com/ will be directed to an express lane; those who do not pre-register will be directed to the regular lane where they can relay contact and health information to staff. Pre-registration systems will ask individuals to complete an “assessment” with health information.
Understanding the impact of the regulations on the city’s businesses, Cantrell has launched new programs to keep them up and running within the guidelines.
Her administration is offering individual grants up to $6,000 to local restaurants and other businesses to add to or expand outside dining. The program will begin with piloting curbside dining and parklets in five to seven commercial corridors over the coming month, and then the program will expand citywide.
The City is also launching a virtual BuildNOLA Small Business Training Program in partnership with Delgado Community College and other local and regional partners. Registration is open and will continue through Aug. 24, 2020. Entrepreneurs and small business owners can register at https://buildnola2020.com/
State and local officials have not yet announced a date for Phase 3, which rolls back most restrictions. However, until then both the state and the city have mandated that masks must be worn in public.
“We have created a Task Force to ensure compliance. It’s necessary for our safety. Many are not following guidelines. We don’t want to go backwards. The Task Force will be going the extra mile aid in enforcement.” Mayor Cantrell said at a press conference. Masks will be handed out to those without them
Cantrell is also asking for the community’s help. “Anyone who sees a large unmasked gathering is asked to call 311. The City has and will shut down businesses who continue to be out of compliance. There will be accountability. There must be for the safety of the community.”
To get the latest information on local Coronavirus stats, visit:
To get the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) information for states and counties, visit: