Virus Threat: New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day parades canceled


BATON ROUGE, LA. (AP) — New Orleans officials canceled the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other related weekend events, in a preventative measure as the number of new coronavirus cases rose Tuesday to three in Louisiana.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said events including the Downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade, Uptown’s Super Sunday event and the Italian American parade have been canceled to combat the spread of the new coronavirus strain.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday announced two additional “presumptive positive” cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, a day after Louisiana announced its first case.

Cantrell said the three presumptive cases have caused concern to grow and officials are aiming at being proactive against the spread of the virus. She said the only event that will go on is the annual Mayor’s Masked Ball because it is a private event.

Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the head of the city’s health department, said events such as parades require attendees to interact closely for an extended period of time. The department recommended the weekend cancellations.

A person who attended a journalism conference in New Orleans has also tested presumptively positive, said conference organizers. The organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors, said in a news release that the person had traveled to New Orleans from someplace else in the U.S.

The person had mild symptoms and is self-quarantining at home, the organization said. The journalist group said the person is trying to contact people that they came in close contact with, and the organization is reaching out to people who took a class with the affected person. The conference was the annual gathering of the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, which is a program of IRE.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. Most people recover in a matter of weeks, as has happened with three-quarters of those infected in mainland China.

Edwards has urged people to remain calm, but to take precautions — such as regular handwashing and avoiding public spaces when sick — to help prevent spread of the virus.

The governor’s office said all three people live in the New Orleans area, the first from Jefferson Parish and the two latest from Orleans Parish. They are all being kept in isolation. It provided no other details.

The positive test results were being sent to the Centers for Disease Control for final confirmation.

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