THE CDC MASK MANDATES SIGNALS A RETURN TO NORMAL &
NEW ORLEANS IS REOPENING…
BUT DON’T THROW YOUR MASKS AWAY YET!
by C.C. Campbell-Rock
Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s plan to reopen New Orleans in modified phases slowed coronavirus transmission and saved lives. A national news show host recognized the city administration’s effort. It lauded the Big Easy for decreasing case numbers.
Intensely focused on the City’s ongoing plan to curtail COVID-19, Cantrell adopted the Center for Disease Control’s exciting new guidelines for face coverings while urging shots in arms.
“Today, I joined Dr. Jennifer Avegno & Shamarr Allen to announce that fully vaccinated individuals in #NOLA no longer need to wear masks or social distance. Unvaccinated individuals should continue masking & distancing and should get the #vaccine ASAP!” Cantrell tweeted.
The Center’s rules include exceptions.
People must wear masks on trains, planes, and buses. Non-vaccinated people must continue to wear masks and social distance.
The CDC announcement launched a debate about trusting unmasked people. “Are we to follow an “honor system?” asked Halle Jackson, an MSNBC host. Jackson raised an important point. Many mask-resistant people never covered their faces. So how can vaxxers know who is vaccinated?
The reality is no one will know who got shots, and asking strangers is not a good idea. Cynics say President Biden and the CDC decided to give Americans what they want, the freedom to not wear a mask, regardless of the consequences to the unvaccinated. Others say they bowed to anti-vaxxer pressure, issued the recommendations, and let the chips fall where they may.
We know unmasked and unvaccinated people are walking around ignoring the risk of contracting or spreading COVID.
In issuing the Cantrell Administration’s Modified Phase Three Guidelines, effective May 15, the administration noted:
“Protecting public health and safety will continue to drive the City of New Orleans’ response to COVID-19. Procedures and decisions will be informed by State and Federal guidelines, an internal City task force, external advisory groups, and robust data analysis. Specific public health milestones must be met before the City will begin to ease restrictions and progress from one phase to another. If these criteria are not met or if there is a spike in cases or deaths, it may be necessary to move back to stricter measures.”
Cantrell knows New Orleans is “at risk for a new wave of COVID.” The City’s Public Health Milestones Dashboard highlights data that show cause for concern.
While New Orleans’ infection rate, coronavirus cases, and deaths are down and widespread testing is up, the data show “COVID spreading in a slow and controlled fashion.” Still, the City is “at risk for a new wave of COVID.” Also, only 40.3% of the total population is completely vaccinated.
Cantrell continues to follow health experts’ advice.
She’s not concerned with pressure from the business community or individuals who want to throw caution to the wind.
Cantrell last week released a “Mayoral Proclamation,” effective May 15, which lays out guidelines for the phased reopening of businesses.
“These phases will continue to prohibit certain activities in the interest of public health and to prevent the further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” according to the 27-page document.
The Proclamation prohibits Secondlines and Parades, Block Parties, and Dance Clubs and offers general and specific safety mandates for individuals and businesses.
The pronouncement follows the recommendations of the City’s Health Director, the CDC, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Louisiana Department of Health.
The Proclamation’s rules for wearing masks follow Federal and State Guidelines and as follows:
When face coverings are still required:
- While passengers and operators of public conveyances, including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, buses, taxis, ride-shares, and the corresponding transportation hubs.
- In government offices (including the City of New Orleans)
- In all healthcare facilities, including physician’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.
- All early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary educational institutions
- Businesses must comply with all safety requirements in the Proclamation.
- Nothing in these guidelines shall prevent private businesses from requiring masks or social distancing to conduct operations,
- Movement around the City should be limited to minimize interaction with large groups.
- Live entertainment is only allowed if venues follow the rules in this Proclamation.
The Proclamation includes guidelines that limit the sale of alcohol from 6 am – 1 am, specific rules for the size of gatherings, safety measures for businesses and individuals, and measures the City will take if companies violate the safety rules.
If New Orleans is to return to normal, more shots in arms are required.