City prepares Monkey Pox safety measures ahead of Southern Decadence

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Monkey Pox concerns cause the cancellation of one of the biggest events at Southern Decadence, the free outdoor concert, Bourbon Street Extravaganza.

There’s a big effort right now to make the festival as safe as possible for the more than 300,000 people expected to attend Labor Day weekend.

For close to 20 years the Bourbon Street Extravaganza at Napoleon’s Itch has been one of the central events drawing over 20,000 people itself.

“Taking that away from the community, from the revelers that come here, that makes me feel bad,” Chuck Robinson said. “It’s not a selfish move, if anything, it’s extremely unselfish because frankly, it breaks my heart that I’m not going to get to do the concert.”

Robinson says as painful as the decision is, the safety of festival-goers and his staff was paramount as he watched the Monkey Pox numbers shoot up in a matter of weeks.

“The science told me it’s a quick spreader, maybe not fatal, but how you get it as close contact,” Robinson said. “You can distance at a parade but you can’t pack the stage front.”

The Louisiana Department of Health knows of 127 infections. 100 are in the Greater New Orleans area alone.

“It just underscores the commitment of our community to protecting each other,” Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said. “I think that we learned such a hard lesson after Mardi Gras 2020 and what happened with COVID that we really do all have a responsibility to do our part to keep each other safe.”

Avengo and LDH have been planning for decadence for months, working with organizers and venues.

“They want to make this as safe as they possibly can. They have thrown themselves into vaccine events, to communications, outreach, education, information,” Avegno said.

Good Friends Bar will be partnering with the Department of Health, Oz and Cafe Lafitte for a vaccination event on August 24.

The bar will also be making modifications to their Decadence celebration.

“We’re closing off the 900 block of St. Anne and trying to move a lot of the party outside, so the bar will still be open, I’m sure it’ll still be packed with people, but that way it gives people an option to feel more comfortable outdoors,’ Beaux Church with Good Friends said.

Avegno says the vaccination effort is going well. The problem is the access to doses from the federal government and not knowing how much we’ll get.

“We asked for additional doses from the state of Louisiana and we’ve gotten in over 300 and we do expect to have an additional 5,000, Mayor Cantrell said at a press conference Thursday.

Avengo says you should educate yourself about the disease, weigh your risk and get vaccinated.

“It’s not just Decadence, it’s the start of football season and festivals are ramping back up and so any kind of close contact, you really want to think about how do I need to protect myself,” Avegno said.

Avegno says to stay tuned for more vaccine events. They’re looking to reach the service industry as well.

Robinson says not to worry, the concert will be back in 2023. He says it’s all planned out already and will knock your socks off.

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