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New Orleans’ top doctor responds to new COVID clusters

Updated: Jun. 20, 2020 at 8:40 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Health officials believe gatherings at Tigerland bars contributed to one of two COVID-19 clusters out of Orleans Parish, totaling at least 130 positive cases. Now, they’re urging residents, especially young people, to take immediate precautions to contain the spread. This, as they say other data points to an uptick in cases.

New Orleans Health Director Jennifer Avegno offers her take on COVID-19 cases, nationwide, while addressing her concern about the city.

"New Orleans has done remarkably well. If we can continue to do that, we will be the success of the nation. But if we let up our guard or if a few bad actors have large super-spreader events, it could throw it right back to where we were," Avegno cautioned.

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The warning comes amidst two new Coronavirus clusters affecting young New Orleanians, believed to be linked to large, non-physically distanced gatherings.

They are activities, Avegno says can be life-threatening based on mortality rates.

“If you are planning an uncontrolled gathering or a party for 100 people, look at that guest list and decide which seven of them you’d be comfortable sentencing to death,” Avegno said.

Avegno also chided individuals and groups enforcement officials say have been trying to have private parties that violate state guidelines.

Avegno says at least 30 new cases likely stemmed from high school graduation parties involving multiple schools. She says another 100 or more originated from gatherings at Tigerland bars in Baton Rouge.

So far, the three bars, Fred's, Reggie's and JL's Place, have been tied to the cluster.

Leaders with Fred's say they're doors are open and everybody scheduled for a shift this weekend tested negative for the virus. Two of their employees already tested positive, as did three workers at Reggie's.

The owner there also owns JL's Place and says both bars will be closed for a deep clean and to test all employees.

“When we reopen, we are going to start taking the temperature of every patron that comes in. We’re all ready, we have signs posted at the door, asking them if they’ve had fever or contact with anyone that’s tested positive not to come in,” explained Owner Darren Adams.

The Louisiana Department of Health announced everyone who has recently visited a Tigerland bar to consider themselves exposed to the virus.

30 LSU players are now in quarantine for either having been around someone with the disease or for testing positive.

The news comes two days after Governor John Bel Edwards announced a statewide uptick of cases, largely due to community spread.

“Every Louisianan needs to do a real gut check as to whether he or she has been slacking off when it comes to taking the proper precautions,” Edwards said.

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