NEW ORLEANS - "I've read public letters and many emails regarding Mayor LaToya Cantrell's extension of the stay at home order to mid-May. My response every time is that her decision was based on health data on what could lead to saving the most lives of people in New Orleans and as President of the New Orleans City Council, I support her putting life, health and safety of New Orleanians above all else. Some ask why is New Orleans taking mitigation steps so seriously? The answer is simple...in New Orleans, the virus is clearly very prevalent. We've seen the most cases and deaths in the state. At one point, New Orleans had the most deaths per capita in the Nation. We've lost 329 people. I'll also add that data shows that if we open too early or make mistakes in reopening, it will not only lead to a great loss of life but even further exacerbate economic impact.
Therefore, the economy of New Orleans and the state must be carefully reopened. It must be a strategic plan to ensure that reopening sectors of our economy doesn't lead to a surge in cases doing away with all the positive mitigation we've all worked so hard on.
I TRULY am very sorry to say that there is no immediate way out of this. No one should expect a light switch to be flipped and be back to normal, this will be a phased approach.
But we will rebound, and it begins with the steps we're taking to reopen. First, reopening is very much being worked through by city and state leaders. The Governor announced a task force last week that will advise the Governor and assist in creating reopening plans. This task force includes several New Orleanians. On the City front, there have been ongoing round tables with business and tourism leaders. We are also actively moving forward with increased virus testing by heading into neighborhoods. The drive-thru virus testing was and is fantastic, but if you don't have a car or anyone to take you, it's not meeting all needs.
Additionally, the New Orleans Health Department has dedicated staff working on research on antibody testing. This will be key toward figuring out who is likely immune to COVID-19. Issues with the antibody tests at this time, center around accuracy. I've been working closely with our state legislators regarding access to virus testing, antibody testing and antiviral drugs, primarily to draft and file legislation to ensure that insurance companies and Medicaid providers in Louisiana cover the costs of these tests and drugs.
While jobs are impacted, the Council and Mayor have been working closely with nonprofits to assist with feeding programs, emergency grants and beyond. This is just a brief synopsis of some of the work underway.
I know we all want to get everyone back to work, back to restaurants, back to big family gatherings etc. We are all tired of this, but I remind everyone that we are still in the depths of this crisis, so I continue to urge patience and to follow guidelines to stay at home as much as possible. If there are changes, it'll be based on health data.
We are all in this together, and together we will get through this. Let's stay safe."
As of today, there are at least 6,000 cases of, and over 329 deaths currently attributable to COVID-19 in Orleans parish alone.
For more on the City's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please continue to follow Ready.Nola.Gov.