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New Orleans leaders shouldn't be afraid to change course on Mardi Gras, professor says

The mayor doesn’t have specific booster numbers for the city's residents, but said "we will have Mardi Gras."

NEW ORLEANS — Standing at the podium announcing the official start of Carnival season, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said, “Let’s do everything we know is necessary to keep our people safe.” 

Also boldly claiming, “We will have Mardi Gras 2022. We will.”

Touting high vaccination numbers in the city of New Orleans stating, “over 92 percent of adults being vaccinated and over 80+ fully vaccinated our young people now at 48% we’re doing everything to accept and appreciate this tremendous milestone that is Mardi Gras 2022.”

Fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC as those with 2 doses but no booster.

According to the mayor's office, the city currently doesn’t have the specific stats for the number of people in the city who have received a booster shot.

Akilah Jefferson Shah is a professor of the pediatrics division of allergy and immunology, she worked under Dr. Fauci as a fellow from 2014 to 2017.

She said being fully vaccinated and boosted is a major defender in guarding against the surging cases of Omicron.

“Vaccines and boosters are going to produce both antibodies and T-cells. With omicron, we’re seeing that the antibody response is not so great," the professor said. "Meaning, if you just have antibodies that are supposed to fight Omicron, Omicron can evade that super easily. The good news is that the T-cell response which is a later response, Omicron is not evading that.”

This is especially dangerous in a city like New Orleans with so many members of our population at a higher risk of becoming sick.

Shah explains, “the city of New Orleans has bassline higher chronic comorbid condition or underlying health conditions than a lot of other places. Then the city of New Orleans has all the social things too. We have higher levels of poverty. We have high levels of people working the types of jobs where they are at risk. So you kind of add those things together, it puts a lot of people at very high risk.” 

Between the rising positive COVID case numbers and Omicron’s unique ability to infect those who haven't received a booster, she would tell city leaders not to be afraid to change course if needed, Dr. Shah said.

“I think today to say that the cases are going to be better and the infections are going to be better and it’s not going to put a lot of people at high risk for an event that’s happening in several weeks is a little premature," Shah said. “I hope that city officials rethink that where if the time comes and everything is looking good then maybe it might not be a bad idea, but if numbers are the way that they are today or look like they’re going to be that way, then it’s probably not the best idea.“

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