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NOPD shuts down large gatherings as coronavirus cases rise

Saturday, New Orleans Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avengo said some groups are using short-term rentals to have private parties that violate city restrictions.

NEW ORLEANS — Cellphone video showed a large crowd gathering outside 808 Baronne Street in New Orleans on Friday night around ten.

Michael Duplantier lives two doors down.

“I came down after hearing the loud music, down the street,” Duplantier said.  “I decided to see what was going on. That’s when I first observed it wasn’t just a matter of music, there were lots of people here waiting to go in this place.”

Duplantier said the building is listed as a short-term rental.

“I asked the doorman what was going on and he told me that there was a private party underway,” Duplantier said.

Saturday, New Orleans Health Director Dr. Jennifer 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.

“Let me be clear, individuals who host such parties and owners that allow these rentals, put themselves at risk, not only of enforcement, but more importantly of promoting the spread of a known deadly disease,” Avegno said.

Avegno warned the city has seen an increase in the percentage of positive tests results at mobile testing sites around the city.

She added the city’s current death rate for people infected by the coronavirus is seven percent.

“So, if you are planning an uncontrolled gathering or a party for 100 people, look at that guest list and decide which seven of them you would be comfortable sentencing to death,” Avegno said.

According to the NOPD, there have been close to 3,000 calls for large gathering incidents since March 20.

Police eventually shut down the private party on Baronne Street.

Neighbors said at one point, the line to get into the party extended the better part of a block. They added, none of the guests was wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

There were probably 200 to 300 people on the sidewalk at one point, all standing right next to each other,” Duplantier said. “They were almost exclusively young people. I would say late teens, into their 20s.”

The owners of 808 Baronne declined WWL-TV’s request for comment.

The address was on a list of large gathering complaints compiled over the weekend by the city’s 311 call center.

The document indicated there would be a “report to follow.”

City officials urge people who see large, uncontrolled gatherings to call 311.

Under the city’s phase two guidelines, gatherings and events are capped at 100 people.

One crowd control officer is required per 50 people. 

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