Revelers Gather in Jackson Square in Spite of Public Heath Warnings

Photo by Shiva Shenoy – licensed under CC BY 2.0

A week full of public health warnings on a possible Omicron wave didn’t stop holiday revelers over the weekend. On Sunday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell joined hundreds of mostly-maskless residents and visitors for caroling in Jackson Square, in spite of some institutions across New Orleans signaling a return to mask mandates.

Caroling in Jackson Square has been a tradition since 1946, and thousands of people travel to the city each year for the event. In 2020, caroling was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of the City of New Orleans, I just want to thank you so much for being here,” Mayor Cantrell told the cheering crowd. “We really thank the residents of this city for making it all possible, as we are really leading as it relates to beating back this COVID-19.”

That’s a slightly different sentiment than the mayor expressed earlier in the week when she told members of the press that city officials were considering the possibility of bringing back a mask mandate ahead of the city’s Carnival celebrations, though she stopped short of actually issuing that mandate.

“We want to continue to be on a path of progress leaning into the start of a new year as well as making sure that we are doing everything possible to come from underneath this global pandemic,” Cantrell said during a Dec. 16 press conference.

On Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported an additional 742 cases of COVID-19 in Orleans Parish with a positivity rate of 7.8 percent. The state of Louisiana reported 2,341 additional cases, with a positivity rate of 5.5 percent. The LDH dashboard places Orleans Parish in the “substantial” risk category.

Last week, Louisiana public health officials began sounding the alarm on Omicron, warning of a new wave of infection. Since its discovery, researchers have warned that Omicron is highly infectious and that while vaccines may lessen the virus’ severity, they aren’t as effective at preventing infection as with previous variants. In addition, “natural immunity” – immunity achieved through a prior infection – is not effective against Omicron.

“Given that we’ve got in Louisiana so many people unvaccinated, even if they’ve had previous exposure to Delta naturally, South Africa’s data suggests that it’s not protective,” said Tulane University epidemiologist Susan Hassig. Further, while Omicron does appear thus far to be milder, causing fewer hospitalizations, it’s important to remember that death and hospitalization aren’t the only terrible outcomes from COVID-19. Around one in three people who are infected with the virus experience long-term health problems.

That being said, there is good news on the vaccination front, with both Moderna and Pfizer reporting that a third shot of their vaccines significantly increases antibody protection over the initial two-dose vaccine.

For now, health officials continue to urge people to continue good practices: get vaccinated if you haven’t, get your booster as soon as you can, mask up, and social distance whenever possible.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *