New Orleans says these 4 things need to happen before the city will reopen

Coronavirus

FILE – In this March 27, 2020 file photo, a man walks past a closed Cafe Du Monde, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, normally bustling with tourists, but now nearly completely deserted due to the new coronavirus pandemic. Where political divides marred early recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana is showing rare political unity in the fight against the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

The city says that even when it reopens, things won’t be like they were for a while

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — The city of New Orleans has outlined the steps officials say they would need to see before reopening businesses in Orleans Parish, giving a roadmap for owners and consumers to watch for. 

City leaders would need to see:

  • Sustained low cases (though what low cases means was not specified)
  • Increased testing 
  • Sufficient capacity for hospitalized COVID-19 patients
  • A plan to isolate people who have tested positive or who have been exposed to someone who has

In a tweet from the city’s NOLA Ready account, city officials warned that even if the mayor’s Stay at Home order, which has already been extended to May 15, is lifted, things won’t go back to the way they were. 

“When these criteria are met, please understand that this will still be a carefully phased process to avoid another spike in the (COVID-19) outbreak,” the tweet said. 

Leaders and health experts across the state and country have been grappling with the question of how to unfreeze the economy for weeks. 

Unlike a typical recession, there is still a large demand for goods and services. But to go out for those goods and services puts consumers in danger from the potentially lethal coronavirus.

Health experts have warned that opening up the economy, especially if done without care, could lead to a second wave of coronavirus cases, putting states like Louisiana in the same situation as before but with more people unwilling to abide by the isolationist stay at home policies. 

Friday, the Louisiana Department of Health released data showing 14,927 people are presumed to have recovered from COVID-19 in the state. 

In Louisiana, just over 26,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. If the number of recovered patients is accurate, that means about 57% of confirmed coronavirus patients have recovered, and 6% have died from COVID-19 complications. 

It’s unclear if catching COVID-19 creates an immunity to a second wave of the virus, or if patients can catch it a second time. That question is at the heart of much of the research being done into when it might be safe to reopen parts of the economy. 

Louisiana has seen progress in its fight against the outbreak thanks to social distancing measures and stay at home orders. 

The number of new cases reported daily has dropped significantly from the state’s peak, and Gov. John Bel Edwards said earlier this week that non-emergency medical procedures would likely restart soon. 

The statewide stay at home order is set to expire April 30. Edwards said he plans to craft new guidelines for May rather than extending the broad mandate that has been in place for over a month. 

Several other parish governments, including St. Tammany Parish on the Northshore, have expressed a desire to bring businesses back before the economic damage from the coronavirus gets any worse. 

In Louisiana, about 17% of the state’s workforce appears to be applying for unemployment insurance, according to numbers released by the state. 

That puts Louisiana in a slightly better position than the country, where 1-in-5 Americans have filed for unemployment. 

But the unemployment application data may not reflect the full picture of the economic damage to Louisiana, because of the large gig economy in the state and the high number of workers who are ineligible for unemployment benefits. 

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