New Orleans: Coronavirus nixes Mardi Gras-season parades
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The raucous Mardi Gras parades where riders on elaborate floats toss trinkets to adoring throngs have been canceled in New Orleans because the close-packed crowds could spread the novel coronavirus.
At least for 2021, the pandemic has put an end to the New Orleans Mardi Gras season as it's long been celebrated, though Mayor LaToya Cantrell has asked the public for safe-celebration suggestions.
City spokesman Beau Tidwell said Tuesday that no parades will roll during the weeks leading up to and including Fat Tuesday because they can't meet restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
The cancellation is based largely on a 250-person cap on outdoor crowds, Tidwell said.
“You can’t have traditional parades with that small a group,” he said.
The city's statement came on a day when diagnosed cases of the coronavirus rose 2,592 statewide, for a total of 207,685. In New Orleans, the day brought 125 new positive tests as the country grapples with a worsening of the outbreak.
All told, the virus is blamed for nearly a quarter-million deaths and over 11 million confirmed infections in the U.S.
“We have had nearly 1,000 new cases over the past 10 days,” Tidwell said. He said the city first posted its no-parade decision online Monday afternoon in a list of frequently asked questions about the coronavirus.
The Carnival season and Mardi Gras are New Orleans' biggest tourist draw.
Two Tulane University professors found, in a study commissioned by parade groups, that the 2020 festival brought the city $145 million, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.
February's Carnival crowds may have been among the reasons New Orleans was hit early and hard by COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and...