The City of New Orleans today (March 10) announced that it will be moving into Phase Three in response to “encouraging” data on the COVID-19 pandemic, including sustained decreasing case rates.
The Modified Phase Three goes into effect at 6 a.m. Friday, March 12. The move comes as New Orleans has a case rate of 1.5 percent – one of the lowest in the state.
Although the rest of Louisiana has been in a Modified Phase since March 2, local officials have moved at a little more cautiously and a bit slower pace in lifting restrictions in New Orleans–a posture that has marked Mayor Cantrell’s response to COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
And while neighboring states such as Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama have lifted or will soon lift restrictions and mask mandates, both state and city officials here are encouraging all Louisianans to continue mask-wearing and other mitigation measures.
“We are doing well because people have demonstrated civic trust, and they have been doing the right thing to get us where we are today,” Mayor Cantrell said. “The numbers are what they are because people have been doing the right thing, and we have collectively been putting in the work. So we are on a good track and in a good spot to move to a modified Phase Three.”
Click here to watch the Phase Three and vaccine update press conference.
“We’ve gone from an early hotspot to prolonged mitigation with recurrent ‘ripples’ of surge,” said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno. “In the last month, new cases have continued on a steady decline and are now back in a comfortable zone of 1 to 10 cases per 100,000 that national experts agree indicates low to moderate transmission.”
Click here to read the modified Phase Three guidelines and restrictions for New Orleans.
Starting Friday at 6 a.m., retail stores, restaurants, salons, tattoo parlors, movie theaters, museums, and offices in Orleans Parish will be allowed to increase to 75% capacity with social distancing and masking still required. Bars, breweries, gyms, fitness centers, and conference venues will be able to operate up to 50% capacity, again with social distancing and masking required. Concert and music halls with fixed, permanent seating will be allowed to increase to 75% capacity with a maximum of 250 people. These changes are aligned with the State of Louisiana’s Phase Three guidelines.
Indoor live entertainment will be allowed, but venues are encouraged to read the guidelines due to the specificity of some of the restrictions. Under the State rules, restaurants that host indoor live entertainment are required to decrease their capacity to 50 percent rather than the 75 percent allowed without live entertainment. All venues hosting live entertainment in New Orleans must obtain a Special Event Permit or a Certificate of Registration from the Department of Safety and Permits.
Dr. Avegno offered a detailed overview of the City’s vaccination efforts, emphasizing the need for equity and access in the continued efforts to prioritize vaccines for the most vulnerable residents.
The pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on residents of color. For example, Black residents make up 75 percent of COVID-19 deaths, though they comprise 60 percent of our population.
Using the Citywide 311 Waitlist, the City is connecting residents seeking vaccine with those providers who have available doses. Similar to the community testing program, the City is locating vaccine sites in key neighborhoods (and worked with partners to do the same), so that residents in need do not have to go far to get their shot. To date, 21.4 percent of New Orleanians have received at least the first dose of vaccine, which outpaces the current vaccine rate at the state and national levels.
The City also is working to facilitate access to the mass vaccination site at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. RTA provides free shuttles from three key hubs (New Orleans East Walmart, West Bank Park and Ride, Duncan Plaza) for anyone traveling to the Convention Center. In its first week of operation, nearly 150 residents have used that service. The City also is working to bring a rideshare pilot to New Orleans, so that anyone who needs a vaccine ride can get one. In partnership with EMS, the City is reaching its most vulnerable homebound residents who would have no way to get vaccinated otherwise. Residents are being encouraged to register on the waitlist and indicate any need a homebound delivery.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that fully vaccinated individuals:
- Must continue full masking and distancing when outside their household
- May visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors in small numbers only without masking or distancing
- Must continue to be vigilant and adhere to guidelines when visiting with non-vaccinated individuals
The City is encouraging all residents to get vaccinated when eligible:
- Call 311 to get on the Citywide Vaccine Waitlist
- Register online at ready.nola.gov/getvaccine
- Find a private provider from the State’s list at ldh.la.gov/covidvaccine-locations.
More information about vaccines is available at ready.nola.gov.