Today (May 11), Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno gave residents an update on the data they are using to guide plans to begin a gradual reopening of the city in the coming weeks.
According to officials, the data shows that the city is ready to begin a phased reopening as New Orleans reaches the necessary milestones, but there is still reason for caution.
Mayor Cantrell will hold a press conference Tuesday (May 12) to provide more details on the city’s phased reopening which is set to begin on May 16, adding that the guidelines outlined by the state are a “floor” and signaling that New Orleans could implement guidelines that are stricter than those set by the state.
“We as a city have a right to chart our own course,” she said.
The data that is informing the City’s reopening decision comes from four key categories:
- Testing capacity
- Healthcare capacity (ICUs and ventilators)
- Readiness for contact tracing and containment
- A steady decline in new cases: the downward curve
On Monday, May 11, New Orleans reported eight new cases for a total of 6,693 and two new deaths for 470 total.
“Because of our Stay Home mandate and the sacrifices that all of our residents have made, we’ve been able to flatten the curve,” said Dr. Avegno. “We’ve tested 7.7 percent of the residents in Region 1 (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes). In New Orleans alone we have tested more than 30,000 residents, and that’s more than some small countries. In our mobile testing, about three percent of tests are positive, That’s a far cry from where were early when it was 20 percent.”
Dr. Avegno warns that a spike in cases or deaths would be a reason to “push the breaks” on reopening the city, adding that precautions such as face masks, social distance and remaining in isolation if you are sick are still urged.
According to Dr. Avegno, federal criteria, guidelines from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Hopkins University, and recommendations from the state Resilient Louisiana Commission have assisted city health officials in identifying five milestones for New Orleans. Those criteria include:
- A rolling average of 50 or fewer daily new cases in New Orleans for at least 21 days
- The ability to consistently test 4 to 5 percent of our population each month
- A set protocol for contact tracing, monitoring, and isolation capabilities
- Ensuring there is adequate capacity in our healthcare system to handle the number of both COVID and non-COVID cases (including hospital admissions, ICU capacity, and number of available ventilators)
- Ensure sector-specific guidelines for operations are in place before easing restrictions