Editor’s note: This story posted before Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a declaration closing all schools. The schools information below is outdated.
During a conference call Thursday (March 12) afternoon, Mayor LaToya Cantrell gave the number of presumptive coronavirus cases in New Orleans: 11. About two hours later, the city’s webpage on the health crisis stated there were 15 in New Orleans. On Friday morning, the number increased to 23.
The public health situation is moving quickly. Health officials have said that there is evidence of “community spread” of the COVID-19 in the New Orleans area. Most of the current patients contracted it locally rather than during travel, so there are likely to be more cases.
After Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on Wednesday, Cantrell did the same for the city, where 23 of the state’s 33 coronavirus patients are located.
All large public gatherings — those requiring a permit from the city — are canceled during the state of emergency. That includes second-lines and all the parades and marches held to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day.
And as festival season quickly approaches, it will include the larger events that normally draw out-of-town visitors, the ones the local economy depends on.
The BUKU Art + Music Project announced Thursday that its 2020 festival scheduled for March 20-21 will be rescheduled. A notice from the Mayor’s Office stated that BUKU could not take place as planned, according to an official statement from the festival team.
The French Quarter Festival has also been rescheduled for the fall, organizers announced Friday.
Cantrell said Thursday city and local health officials have been meeting with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival organizers, who in turn are talking to their sponsors and artists.
“As of right now, it’s in place,” Cantrell said during a conference call Thursday with neighborhood leaders, in response to a question about Jazz Fest, adding: “Eliminating public events is a practice that can help us reduce the spread of this disease.”
Public schools remain open, while colleges and universities have moved their classes online. Libraries and NORD facilities are open. City Hall is open, too, but citizens are asked to go online for permitting and other city business.
Courts are open, but Criminal District Court is asking jurors to check in online and not report to Tulane and Broad.
Senior centers have closed, as they serve the population that is most vulnerable to the disease.
Buses and streetcars are running, and are probably cleaner than passengers have seen them. All surfaces are disinfected daily, officials said. The RTA board is also prepared to shut down services if deemed necessary, officials said.
Louis Armstrong International Airport remains open. Road work and other capital projects are continuing.
For updates on the city’s response to the coronavirus, see ready.nola.gov. To get notices sent to your phone, text COVIDNOLA to 888777.
New Orleans public schools have not sent children home but are continuing to monitor the situation.
“Our goal is to keep schools open, as long as health officials advise us to do so, given the tremendous disruption closures would cause to our parents, caregivers and students,” said NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. in a written statement. “Any closure decisions will be made in-line with the CDC’s guidance and recommendations from local and state health agencies.”
Lycee Francias of New Orleans, a state-authorized charter school, closed for its two campuses for Thursday and Friday of this week, citing a potential community exposure.
“The school’s actions are not in line with the guidelines set forth and discussed by NOLA-PS,” a press release from NOLA Public Schools stated. “Currently all schools under NOLA-PS are remaining open.” The school system oversees 78 schools.
For coronavirus updates from NOLA Public Schools, see this webpage.
Catholic schools in the area also remain open, but the Archdiocese of New Orleans has postponed all off-site, school-sponsored events within the region, such as field trips, through March 27.
Colleges and universities announced this week that their classes are moving online.
Delgado: All Delgado Community College classes will meet online beginning Thursday, March 19, until further notice. In-person classes will not meet Tuesday or Wednesday. The Delgado campuses will remain open.
Dillard: Dillard University will move to an online format for all courses from March 23 until further notice. University services and offices, including residential halls and dining services, will still be available. Students have the option to leave campus for the remainder of the semester. Students who do not have the technology resources to access classes at home will be able to use the computer labs on campus. Faculty and staff will be asked to report for work as both current and prospective students will still seek to access services.
Holy Cross: The University of Holy Cross will transition to remote instructional delivery and online operations on March 19. For more information visit the school’s website.
Loyola: Loyola University New Orleans, in consultation with state and city government, is moving to online instruction beginning Monday (March 16) for the rest of the spring semester. Classes were canceled on Thursday and Friday to give faculty time to finalize their preparations, and to give students time to pack and move out if they plan to leave. Students are encouraged but not required to return home.
Nunez: Nunez Community College is making preparations to transition to online delivery of courses. Nunez plans to remain open, as of now, and employees should continue to report to work as usual. For more information visit their website.
Southern University at New Orleans: SUNO is transitioning to remote instruction as of March 23. All events are canceled but the residential, dining and other facilities remain open.
Tulane: All Tulane University classes will be conducted online beginning March 23 through the end of the semester. Today (March 13) is the last day of in-person classes for the semester. Clinical-based programs, practicums, medical rotations and in-lab training and research will continue.
No classes, online or in-person, will be taught March 14-22 to give Uptown on-campus students time to move out of their residence halls for the remainder of the semester. Students who need to remain, such as international students and in-season athletes, need to submit an online application.
University of New Orleans: Online-only courses at UNO will begin Monday. UNO is also canceling all university-sponsored events on campus that exceed 50 attendees. For updates, see here.
Xavier: Effective Monday, Xavier University of Louisiana will transition to online classes in response to COVID-19. The campus will remain open. Face to face instruction and all large gatherings will be suspended after the close of business today (March 13). Competitive sporting events will occur but will be closed to spectators.
The Criminal District Court says potential jurors scheduled to appear for juror empanelment today (Friday, March 13) are strongly encouraged to qualify online. Jurors are not to report to the Tulane and Broad courthouse. For questions or concerns, contact the Jury Commission at 504-658-9200.
RTA has issued the following statement regarding COVID-19 response:
“Currently, RTA does not expect changes to any bus, streetcar, ferry, or paratransit service levels. As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop in Orleans Parish, RTA is developing contingency plans that include adjusted service levels and routes. All service updates will be provided via the RTA website and social channels.
“The agency remains committed to the safety of our riders and has implemented additional disinfecting methods when cleaning the vehicle fleet. … The agency is enhancing the daily cleaning process to include an additional disinfectant that is sprayed to deter the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The additional cleaning process is designed to disinfect high touch areas, including all railings, seating, operator area, and fareboxes.”
Starting Monday, all senior centers in Orleans Parish subcontracted with the New Orleans Council on Aging (NOCOA) will be closed due to the threat of the coronavirus.
NOCOA operations will be limited as well due to the threat of the coronavirus, in order to protect clients who are the most susceptible to this epidemic. Clients and others with business with the New Orleans Council on Aging are asked to refrain from visiting the offices unless an appointment has been already scheduled with a staff person. Clients and those who need assistance to call us at (504) 821-4121 and schedule an appointment. Walk-in visits are discouraged.
The Uptown seniors centers are:
12th Ward Save Our Community, 2101 Philip Street 2nd Floor
Central City Senior Center, 2101 Philip Street 1st Floor
Kingsley House Adult Services, 1600 Constance Street
Mercy Endeavors Senior Center, 1017 St. Andrew Street
Uptown Shepherd Senior Center, 921 South Carrollton Ave.
Carrollton Hollygrove Senior Center, 3300 Hamilton St.
Kinship Center, 921 South Carrollton Ave.
For any other information on senior centers, call 504-821-4121 or visit www.nocoa.org.
All NORD facilities and programs are operating as usual. Check www.nordc.org for the latest programming updates.
All library locations are continuing cleaning procedures of wiping down furniture and computer equipment with disinfectant daily. See the NOPL homepage for updates.