New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a press conference on Friday where she urged all residents to stay home in order to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
Cantrell issued a “stay at home” mandate, But despite her forceful rhetoric, this mandate does not introduce any new restrictions on businesses or residents and is not much different from what other communities are doing around the country.
“It is what it is, stay at home, work from home when you can. Only go out for essential services” the Mayor urged.
These new guidelines may be enforced as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise, reaching to 537 statewide. 326 residents of New Orleans have tested positive for the virus.
Department of Health director Dr.Jennifer Avegno asked people not to be around others and for employers, if possible, not to open their businesses if work could be done from home. She also asked people to refrain from going out for any non-essential need although she did clarify that residents are still allowed to go outside.
Groceries, pharmacies, gas stations, hardware stores, banks, some professional offices, taxis, ride-sharing services and laundries are all services considered essential. Whereas bars, health clubs/gyms, malls, etc have explicitly been asked to close. Restaurants are still allowed to operate on a take-out basis.
Beauty salons, barbers and nail salons were especially asked to close down as it would be impossible for them to operate without coming into physical contact with their customers. By extension, these new restrictions may provide some relief to healthcare workers.
The National Guard’s arrival in New Orleans has made people wonder if martial law would be imposed. Although the Mayor stated on Twitter that this was simply an additional source of manpower necessary to assist existing efforts to help families in need. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had opened two testing
sites for the virus on Friday, March 20th in New Orleans. These sites are for testing first
responders and healthcare workers who are now showing symptoms of the virus.
Another testing site is said to open at the Alario Center in Westwego on Saturday.Dr.Avegno said that this program is focused on serving the general public, aimed particularly at individuals who are at high-risk. 45 employees of the Sewerage & Water Board are now believed to have either tested positive for the virus or have come into contact with those who have it and are thus being kept in isolation.
Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said, “We don’t know for certain what guidelines will be further introduced. However, people are still allowed to go out for essential reasons. Such as going grocery shopping, getting pet food, or taking care of a loved one, etc.”
She later told parish residents not to worry too much about the “shelter in place” rule and to remain calm and carry out the quarantine.
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