As COVID-19 continues to impact the City of New Orleans, many small businesses have been forced to close altogether or adapt in ways they would never have imagined just a couple months ago. For Simply Dispensary, a local wellness products retailer with locations Uptown, in Mid-City, in the Marigny, and on the West Bank, that meant transitioning into a completely new industry in just a matter of weeks.
Since the beginning of March, Simply Dispensary has harnessed its relationships with suppliers and manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad to provide much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and hard-to-find supplies—hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and 3-ply disposable face masks—to restaurants, convenience stores, and other businesses. “When it comes down to it, we are in the business of selling wellness products,” said co-owner and general manager Sean Partridge. “As this outbreak started affecting our city and the people we care about, and you can’t find the supplies you need to stay safe and well anywhere, we knew we had to start offering these products ourselves.” By mid-March, when the City of New Orleans announced the stay-at-home order, Simply Dispensary had already brought in inventory of hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and hand soap.
Xavier University is the first site in a campaign bring COVID-19 testing to medically vulnerable communities. Walk-up testing will be available at Xavier from Tuesday (April 21) through Friday of this week. LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will be conducting a mobile testing campaign for COVID-19 across the metro area over the coming weeks. At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department, urged residents of the Xavier neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Hollygrove and Dixon to take advantage of the testing this week. To be eligible for testing, you must be 18 years of age or older and either recently exposed to COVID-19 or recently showing symptoms of the virus.
A laboratory based at Tulane Medical Center and in partnership with UMC-LCMC is conducting a new test for COVID-19 that can yield results within four hours. The test was made possible through the joint efforts of the Tulane University School of Medicine, the LSU School of Medicine, Tulane Medical Center, LCMC Health and Roche Diagnostics. Researchers at the Tulane Medical Center Laboratory ran its first set of tests using the Cobas 6800 analyzer over the weekend and is now capable of running nearly 200 tests a day. The testing is open only to patients at Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center. Roche Diagnostics is the Switzerland-based manufacturer of the Cobas 6800 analyzer.
Joe Sobol Sr. was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. The Riccobonos, his mother’s family, came to New Orleans after Sicily’s devastating famine in the 1880s. They first sold produce and then macaroni in the French Quarter. Eventually they opened The Pearl Restaurant and Oyster Bar at 119 St. Charles Ave., where 10-year-old Joe got his first job dressing the family’s famous roast beef po-boys.
A week and a half into quarantine with COVID-19, I was shaking. I piled a blanket on top of myself and rocked side to side, occasionally moaning, nestling ever deeper into the joints of my couch. My heart felt like it was racing, my head pounded. Yes, according to my doctor, I most likely was infected with the coronavirus, but that’s not what was causing this. It had been 10 days since I was within 8 feet of another person, and I was having an anxiety attack.
The Breaux Mart at 3233 Magazine St., along with the others in the local supermarket chain, will be closed Sunday (March 29) to give its employees a rest, according to posts on the store’s social media accounts. While most employees will get a chance to sleep late and put their feet up for a while, crews will be working behind the locked doors on some deep cleaning, sanitizing and restocking, store managers say. Breaux Mart has also won praise for its finesse in the art of social distancing. The store has reserved the 8 to 9 a.m. hour on Tuesdays for shoppers ages 60 and up.
Beginning Monday (March 30), Hands On New Orleans, in partnership with World Central Kitchen, is launching the Serving Seniors Program to provide free meal delivery service to home-bound, low-income seniors and chronically ill residents, who are at a greater risk of severe illness if exposed to the coronavirus. And they need volunteers. Volunteer drivers are needed to pick up and deliver meals to the doorsteps of seniors who have signed up on Monday and Thursday each week from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Hands On will coordinate a central pick up point and give volunteers their assignment. Each driver will deliver to five to six households in the same ZIP code. Volunteers need to be healthy and have a vehicle.
COVID-19 can live up to eight hours on cardboard takeout boxes and up to 72 on Styrofoam containers, straws, cups and plastic bags, says a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. Airborne droplets can linger in the air for three to four hours after a person has coughed or sneezed. What does that mean for locals who are supporting our beloved local restaurants and coffee shops? It means risk. Takeout and curbside service is a risk to the health of the workers and the customers, but how much?
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order today that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday (March 23) to further fight the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as the number of confirmed cases have topped 800 and spread to more than half of of the state’s parishes. “In Louisiana we have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve; however, this is not enough. As our number of cases continue to grow, I am directing all Louisianans to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave,” Edwards said. The stay-at-home order follows similar guidelines to the order issued by Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Friday. The cases of COVID‑19 in New Orleans on Sunday climbed to 451, with 15 resulting in death.
The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the New Orleans Health Department announced Saturday that, beginning Sunday (March 22), drive-thru COVID-19 testing will be available to anyone with a fever and other symptoms.
The two drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations in Orleans Parish can perform up to 100 tests per day, per site. They will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until the 100-test cap has been reached. The testing sites are:
• Mahalia Jackson Theater parking lot, 1419 Basin St. • University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena parking lot, 6801 Franklin Ave. Upon arrival at a site, individuals will be required to remain in their vehicles and to provide identification and health insurance information, although everyone will be tested regardless of whether or not they have insurance, city officials state.
With New Orleans a hotspot for the pandemic, officials have put in place a daunting array of restrictions and closures that have disrupted the life — if not the livelihood — of nearly every New Orleanian. Hundreds of New Orleans workers have been impacted by COVID-19 related closures. If you’ve experienced a loss of income because of the coronavirus pandemic, here are some resources to help you through, including unemployment compensation; relief funds for gig workers, musicians, bartenders and others; help for small businesses; counseling for stress and more. Gig-worker relief fund
The New Orleans Business Alliance announced on March 17 that it had set up a dedicated relief fund to meet the needs of the gig economy workers, many of who have been adversely affected by the loss of income. This includes ride-share drivers, musicians, arena workers and festival production staff.