Orleans Parish reverted back to a modified Phase One on Friday, January 8. The return to Phase One, which will last at least three weeks, was triggered by increasing COVID-19 positivity rates. The positivity rate in New Orleans doubled in one week, going from 5.5% to 10.4%.
The new restrictions began at 6:00am on Friday and include:
- All indoor activities capped at 25% capacity
- Gatherings and special events are limited to members of a single household
- Tables at restaurants are limited to 6 people from the same household
- Outdoor seating at bars is limited to 6 people from the same household
- Indoor service at bars without a food permit is prohibited
- Live entertainment is prohibited
- Business are limited to 25% capacity
- Schools will revert back to Distance Learning
- Attendance at sporting events is limited to 4% capacity
- Walking tours are limited to no more than 6 people from a single household
Modified Phase One effectively puts the city back where it was in June. The statewide mask mandate remains in effect.
There were 1,485 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Orleans from December 31 to January 6. That’s an average rate of 212 cases daily. Previously, city officials had stated an average of 50 cases a day would trigger tighter restrictions.
The chief concern is hospital capacity. Statewide, hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are the highest they’ve ever been since the pandemic began. While hospitals in other areas of the state are already at capacity, New Orleans not quite there yet. Dr. Jennifer Avegno of the New Orleans Health Department says, “All signs are flashing red. Now is the time to take immediate action. If we do not do so it will cause needless, preventable suffering and tragedy.” Officials at Ochsner have already stopped receiving out-of-state transfer patients and begun rescheduling elective surgeries. Avegno added, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines, but the vaccine only works if you’re alive to receive them.”