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Doctor warns omicron could put Mardi Gras in jeopardy

"I think you would be hard to conclude anything other than that Mardi Gras is in a bit of jeopardy, right at the moment.”

NEW ORLEANS — As the number of new Covid-19 cases is trending up again, local leaders and health officials are making a last-ditch effort to head off another deadly surge of the virus.

To that end, public school children in New Orleans will be required to be fully vaccinated by February.

The mandate applies to students ages 5-and-older.

Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Kline says the much more contagious omicron variant puts us in the middle of another crisis situation.

According to Dr. Kline, the omicron variant is about eight times as contagious as the delta variant. Delta was more than twice as contagious as the original coronavirus.

“The school setting is one of the major settings in which children can become infected with Covid,” Kline said. “I think it’s reasonable to do our best to see that as many children as possible are vaccinated in schools to cut down on that transmission.”

Parents have mixed opinions on the vaccine requirement.

“It shouldn’t be a mandatory thing,” Kacey Johnson said. “The vaccine, for me, it’s an opinion on whether or not you should get or you shouldn’t.”

“Honestly, we’ve been getting shots since we’ve been growing up,” Zinda Sartin said. “So, I feel like it’s not really of problem to get vaccinated.”

Dr. Kline says the timing of the new variant is problematic.

He added, vaccine mandates are a way to slow down a fast-moving virus.

“We’ve got a little bit of time, I guess to see how things work out,” Dr. Kline said. “But I think you would be hard to conclude anything other than that Mardi Gras is in a bit of jeopardy, right at the moment.”

The school mandate coincides with a new city requirement

Beginning Jan.3, children ages 5-to-11 will also have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter restaurants and other businesses.