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COVID-19 and the Future of New Orleans

Benjamin Bates Data News Weekly Contributor

COVID-19 and Changing Times
As the City, nation and world continues to grapple with the scourge that is the COVID-19 Pandemic, the latest strain (Delta Variant) threatens all the gains made since the Pandemic hit in the Spring of 2020.

We have seen new normals of social distancing, mask mandates and lockdowns. In these tumultuous times, we’ve witnessed at warp speed vaccines that at this point half of the country have taken.

But what is interesting is that a public health issue has become politicized. In Louisiana, which according to health experts have some of the highest surges cases of the Delta Variant this is problematic.

So much so, that it’s caused cities to re-issue mask mandates as well as businesses to require proof of vaccination for entry into some venues. We must ask ourselves in these pressing times for us all, what course we will take to get ourselves out of this crisis that is affecting all our lives.

COVID…The New Normal
Since the Spring of 2020, COVID-19, have changed our lives forever. Its effects are varied as we are entering the beginning of the school year in the City of New Orleans.

With questions being, what will we do with our school age children under 12, who cannot get vaccinated? Further, what will its impact be on teachers and others whether vaccinated or not who could possibly put themselves in harm’s way?

We as a City, must decide how are we going to get to herd immunity, or is it a goal that is unobtainable. We must ask ourselves that after over a year is this plague up with is to stay. If so, how we will survive it, if part of the population for a host of reasons will not get vaccinated, wear masks, or respect and follow the safety protocols.

To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate
The problem it seems as it relates to the increase Delta Variant cases there is a disparity between those who are and are not vaccinated.

Those who choose not to get vaccinated reasons vary from reasonable to in some cases believing misinformation on the web. This has served as part of the reason there’s been a spike in cases.

This is especially the case in Louisiana, while New Orleans has the most vaccinated people in the state, because the City is a destination for people coming from other places all the time; the City is vulnerable.

Mixed Messaging Leads to Confusion and Chaos
In this Pandemic there’s been a lot of messaging by medical authorities that’s led to problems for cities and states implementing sound policies around keeping people safe as well as getting people vaccinated.

Secondly, an honors system was put in place to further muddy the waters with no verification system in place. It seems that commercial interest, as well as the need for people wanting to gather again was a shortsighted solution to meet the moment.

In retrospect, it was a mistake by many cities, and now these same cities are asking the private sector to do what should have been done in the first place; which is have a verification system in place and continue to have indoor masking requirements and social distancing. But of course, hindsight is 20/20.

Working Towards Solutions
As we will soon be into fall and winter, the numbers may become worse. It will be up to the city, state, medical and businesses leaders to provide proper guidance and policy, but most importantly citizens to decide that getting to herd immunity should be the goal. That it’s shown as the best way to fight the spread of the Delta Variant, and possibly any new strain that’s on the horizon.

But for those who have not gotten vaccinated, they must realize that it is not only them, but all of us. That the public good is what is most important. And getting the vaccine and following safety protocols are key if we are to make a turn in a positive direction in the fight against COVID-19.

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