The thousands of tourists and locals who will attend the long-awaited New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will surely cause an increase in cases of Covid-19 and it newest sub-variant, BA.2. A friend coming in for the festival wants to wear his mask at the Fair Grounds. While a good idea, that’s probably not very practical considering the heat and the ongoing consumption of libations at Jazz Fest and the evening events. Ensuring each attendee takes the personal responsibility to avoid infection at this mostly outdoors event is a better solution.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reported Tuesday that the coronavirus has infected nearly 60% of people in the U.S. at least once, including about 75% of children. Yet the CDC does not believe the data from blood tests indicates that people have protection against the virus going forward, especially against increasingly transmissible variants.
Before the Omicron variant took hold, about one-third of Americans had been infected. The infection rate then almost doubled by the end of February. Many of the infections have been asymptomatic or with few symptoms — but 1 million Americans have died from the virus, including 17,240 Louisiana residents. As of last reports from the Louisiana Department of Health, there are 325 new cases and five new deaths statewide.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday on PBS NewsHour that the United States is out of the Covid-19 pandemic phase because U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are down, contrary to what’s going on in China and other countries. Still, daily cases are twice as high as they were for most of last summer and have started to rise again.
With this new highly transmittable BA.2 sub-variant, reinfection is possible especially at a packed event like Jazz Fest. The best chance to avoid infection or reinfection is to ensure that every person in your group has been vaccinated and boosted to the maximum allowed. If anyone starts to develop symptoms, everyone should get tested to avoid spreading the disease. The Jazz Fest has a medical tent on site for those who need assistance. Though fewer people are dying from Covid-19, getting sick is still no fun.
As part of a new $19 million public health initiative, the Louisiana Department of Health will be sampling sewerage from the Jazz Fest’s many porta-potties each evening. Their results will be a clear indication of how a large festival like this one contributes to the spread of this disease. Have a great Jazz Fest — and stay safe.
RICO ALVENDIA APPOINTED TO WEST POINT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President Joe Biden recently appointed New Orleans attorney and Iraq war veteran Roderick “Rico” Alvendia, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, to the Board of Directors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his three-year term, Alvendia will have the opportunity to advise Biden on the ongoing status and morale of the academy.
“I am honored and humbled to serve our great nation once again on this important bi-partisan board,” said Alvendia who resides Uptown with his wife and children. “I appreciate the trust and confidence of President Biden in selecting me for this opportunity, especially during such challenging times around the globe. The men and women of West Point are central to our country’s future leadership at home and abroad.”
Alvendia served honorably as an Army officer for 25 years and received the Bronze Star for his service during combat operations in Iraq in 2005 with the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Brigade Combat Team, where he was a part of an international team of lawyers who assisted Iraqi prosecutors in their criminal trials against insurgents. A graduate of Loyola Law School, Alvendia started the Legion of Mars Mardi Gras Krewe, the first New Orleans Carnival organization established to honor U.S. military veterans and their families. Over the years Alvendia and the Mars Krewe have helped thousands of local veterans while deployed or in financial hardship. He is also co-managing director of the Alvendia, Kelly and Demarest law firm and is a prolific fundraiser.
“I also want to thank all my family and friends who supported me while I was wearing the uniform and now again as I serve on this board,” Alvendia said.
Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at email@example.com.