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New Orleans would have canceled Mardi Gras if feds had taken coronavirus more seriously, Mayor says

The mayor said on CNN Thursday that if the White House took the virus seriously, local leaders would have followed suit.

NEW ORLEANS — Mardi Gras may have been the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus, leading New Orleans to become one of the epicenters of the virus. 

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appeared on CNN Thursday afternoon saying if she had more information from the federal government, she would have pulled the plug on carnival season.

“When it's not taken seriously at the federal level it's very difficult to transcend down to the local level in making these decisions,” Cantrell said. “In hindsight, if we were given proper direction, we would not have had Mardi Gras and I would have been the leader to cancel it.”

Cantrell had already made several difficult decisions during the Carnival season, stopping two of the city's biggest parades after people were killed by floats. 

According to Dr. Rebekah Gee, CEO of the LSU Health System and former state health secretary, Mardi Gras helped the virus spread across the state.

“We now think in large part Mardi Gras happened when this virus was circulating and 1.4 million people came to our city, many came from all over Louisiana to New Orleans, they caught beads, but also caught COVID-19,” Gee said.

Cantrell is one of several politicians who have been critical of the White House's early response to the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump downplayed the virus early on, saying that the first diagnosed cases in Washington state would be cleared up within weeks and the country would be virus-free after.

“One day, it’s like a miracle. It will disappear,” he predicted  on Feb. 27, two days after Mardi Gras.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the country was not prepared for an outbreak like this and described the US's initial response as "failing."

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for,” Fauci said during a congressional hearing on COVID-19. “That is a failing. Let’s admit it.”

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