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Cantrell threatens to shutdown New Orleans 'without any hesitation' if COVID-19 rules aren't followed

"There seems to be either a lack of understanding or a lack of responsibility among our young people."

NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she won't hesitate to shut the City of New Orleans down again if coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

The Louisiana Department of Health reported nearly 900 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, down from the months-long high reported Tuesday but still up from recent weeks. 

"We're continuing to hold our own, but if we do not double down on our efforts to protect ourselves and the people around us... we will regress," the Mayor said.

Cantrell urged people to continue to wear masks and keep practicing social distancing. She also said that reporting businesses not doing so will be an important part of keeping the city safe.

"This is mandatory," Cantrell said. "It is to protect everyone."

The Mayor said that enforcement on large gatherings and businesses breaking the Phase 2 rules would be increased, with several code enforcement employees moving to weekend shifts.

Recently, Louisiana Dept. of Health officials have identified clusters of COVID-19 cases stemming from graduation parties in New Orleans and large gatherings at the Tigerland bars near LSU.

"There seems to be either a lack of understanding or a lack of responsibility among our young people and in some cases the parents who are aware of their actions," Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the City's Health Department director said. "I’m imploring all of you to recognize your responsibility to your community."

The recent spike in cases is not being caused by recent protests in the city, according to Dr. Avegno. 

The city's health department has traced new clusters of the virus to gatherings where people were not wearing masks, which, by and large, has not included protests over police brutality, Avegno said during a press conference Wednesday. 

Louisiana saw its largest increase in COVID-19 cases in more than two months on Tuesday. According to the state health department, more than 1,300 new cases were reported, the highest since the peak of the virus on April 7.

The LDH has reported that almost the entirety of new cases are coming from community spread -- people not following safety guidelines. One cluster of the disease was tracked back to a graduation party in New Orleans. 

Avengo said some groups are using short-term rentals to have private parties that may violate gathering size, masking or other coronavirus restrictions clearly spelled out by state and city proclamations.

Hospitalizations for the virus dropped on Wednesday after four days straight of reported increases. The number of patients on ventilators also decreased. 

Here are the daily coronavirus statistics for Wednesday, June 24 from the Louisiana Department of Health. Changes from the day before are noted:

  • Cases: 52,477 (+882)
  • Deaths: 3,039 (+18)
  • Patients in hospitals: 631 (-15)
  • Patients on ventilators: 77 (-6)
  • Recoveries: 39,792 (updated on Mondays) 
  • Total tests performed: 648,505 (+12,566)

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