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‘Cautiously optimistic,’ City health, hospital leaders reflect on ‘good’ Covid numbers following Mardi Gras

Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 9:24 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -There is a stack of packages at Le Jardin on Royal Street ready to ship.

“We made a lot of sales, sales are up,” said Stuart Thompson.

They’re art pieces headed to Texas, California, all across the country, proof of a successful Mardi Gras season.

“I could feel before going into this Mardi Gras that was like released into the air and the city is just kind of like on a euphoria and like sales have been up,” said Thompson.

Adding to the good feelings, New Orleans Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno says nearly two weeks after Mardi Gras the city’s Covid numbers are pretty good too.

“We’re not seeing widespread workplace disruptions or school disruptions,” said Avegno.

Avegno says the city’s monitoring Covid in the community through wastewater. She says so far, those numbers through Ash Wednesday are stable.

“What we can say is that the people that started coming into town or started, you know, going to big parties in mid-February don’t seem to have been causing more infections that we’re picking up. So that’s exciting,” said Avegno.

Even during the week leading up to Mardi Gras, Avegno says their testing data reflected lower transmission.

She says they tested 17 hundred people landing at the airport. 6 tested positive. Along the parade routes, they also handed out nearly 50 thousand free rapid tests with a QR code, knowing not all 50 thousand would report their results.

“We’ve got 146 people who have taken the test and showed us you know sent us their response. Of those. We’ve only got six positives, which is pretty darn good,” said Avegno.

In our hospitals, at the peak of the Delta surge, Dr. Jeffrey Elder says there were more than 3 thousand hospitalized. Now statewide, there are about 240 patients hospitalized.

“I think we do have a lot of immunity right now in our population, just from the fact that we have a lot of people who are vaccinated. We have a lot of people who recently had Covid. And so while that protects us for now, it’s not necessarily a long-term thing, which is why we continue to stress that people get vaccinated and if you’ve been vaccinated get boosted,” said Elder.

Mardi Gras was a much-needed relief from Covid stressors, but health leaders are still cautiously optimistic.

“This virus has surprised us in a way that you know, over and over again that we really couldn’t predict. And we just have to be ready for that,” said Avegno.

Some expressed how they would like the mask mandate to return to better protect workers in the city. Avegno says that’s why they’ll continue to monitor Covid levels in the wastewater so if levels start to rise, they can get a better idea if more mitigation measures are needed.

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