More fans allowed inside Smoothie King Center as COVID positivity rate drops

The arena--which seats 17,791-- opened to 2,700 fans for Wednesday night’s game.

With city's drop in positivity rate, Smoothie King Center allowed to host more fans

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As the New Orleans Pelicans prepared to take on the Detroit Pistons, the Smoothie King Center allowed an indoor seating capacity of up to 2,700 fans.

This comes after the Louisiana Department of Health released COVID-19 updates. For Orleans Parish, the positivity rate had a near 15 percent change since the beginning of February; dropping to a 1.8 percent COVID positivity rate.

“The numbers are dropping precipitously meaning that we’re doing well with what we have. It does not mean less testing. It does not mean we can relax,” said health educator Dr. Eric Griggs.

Griggs said based on the trends over the course of the pandemic, there were drops in positivity rates during the summertime, followed by extreme spikes in cases.

“What we’re concerned about right now is an explosion in numbers with the new variant that is increasingly more infectious,” he said.

But as the positivity rates decrease, Griggs said communities will go through a system of opening and closing.

“It’s social experiments, public health, community experiments seeing how far we can go to test the limit of financial viability,” he said. “So in order to try to put some life back in our financial status as a community, you’re going to see a lot of places opening up based on the data.”

Such as the Smoothie King Center allowing an increase in seating capacity. But Dr. Griggs said the issue now is making sure community members do not become complacent.

“When we relax, our numbers go up, people get sick, hospitals get overwhelmed and people die,” he said. “You’re going to see things, the social and community public health experiment and things opening up and closing. That includes sporting events, schools, the whole nine. And once again, just like the data allowed you to go out, that data-- the science-- will push us back in.”

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