New Orleans Moves Towards Phase One Reopening


Photo Courtesy of Mayor LaToya Cantrell, official Facebook

On May 11, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that according to the data, New Orleans is ready to move to a Phase One reopening on May 16. “We’re moving out of community spread,” Cantrell said, noting that the city would “continue to follow the data” as it begins its phased reopening approach.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno gave a brief overview of the milestones being used to determine the city’s reopening:

  • Milestone One: a sustained decline in cases over 14-21 days
  • Milestone Two: test capacity of between 400-600 people per day
  • Milestone Three: contact tracing capability
  • Milestone Four: healthcare capacity
  • Milestone Five: sector-specific guidelines in place for businesses

According to Dr. Avegno, New Orleans now meets or exceeds each milestone listed, though she noted that a spike in cases could result in re-closures or a “pumping of the breaks” in terms of reopening.

In New Orleans, Phase One is being referred to as the “Safest at Home” phase. According to Dr. Avegno, the goal of Phase One is to safely and slowly reopen, making progress towards the next phase as quickly as possible without having to regress to full lockdown once again. “If you can maintain your livelihood while working from home,  you should continue to do so,” Dr. Avegno stated.

While more specific guidelines will be released by Mayor Cantrell tomorrow, this phase will have the following requirements:

  • All physical distancing requirements (social distancing of 6ft, no large gatherings, etc.) remain in place
  • Face coverings required for everyone in public
  • Elderly and high-risk must continue to stay home
  • Low risk (or medium risk with modifications) businesses & activities may open at 25% of capacity/size limits with strict sanitation protocols
  • Sectors with high “super spreader” potential (bars, nightclubs, churches, casinos, theaters, open work/office spaces, etc) should remain closed.

When asked whether the city’s restrictions were “business-friendly,” Dr. Avegno stated that she believed they are business-friendly, as they protect both employees and customers from getting sick. Dr. Avegno also noted that “the economic devastation of reopening and then having to go back would be catastrophic.”

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