The importance of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces has become the new national pastime. In the past month, we’ve all viewed tutorials and become experts on how to properly wash our hands for 20 seconds or more, but what about our groceries, shoes and mail-order packages? You’re likely wiping down some surfaces with disinfectant, but are you wiping down all the right surfaces? If keeping your home safe from COVID-19 is the priority, what comes after 6 feet of social distancing and a liberally applied hand sanitizer? Some say it entails a lot more.
From the Mayor’s Office
Beginning on Monday (Jan. 11), weather permitting, the New Orleans Department of Public Works’ contractor, Hard Rock Construction Co., will close a travel lane in the 2400 block of South Claiborne Avenue and a portion of the bike lane in the 7900 block of St. Charles Avenue to accommodate sidewalk repairs as part of a city bond-funded sidewalk improvement program. The closures will be in effect from 8 a.m. Monday through the end of the month. Residents and commuters are reminded to use caution when driving, bicycling and walking near the construction site.
A bicyclist was killed Tuesday (Dec. 29) night after being hit by a sport utility vehicle while crossing St. Charles Avenue, the New Orleans Police Department reported. The cyclist was traveling toward the river on Delachaise Street at about 11:35 p.m., police said. He went through a stop sign and entered St.
By almost every measure, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has done a yeoman’s job of keeping COVID-19 at bay in New Orleans, albeit at great cost to our tourism-driven economy. Now that the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have reached the region and Moderna’s vaccine is not far behind, Cantrell must face her next big hurdles: convincing enough citizens to get inoculated so that we reach herd immunity, and retooling the economy to better address the city’s long-standing workforce issues.
Convincing skeptics that the vaccine is effective and without adverse side effects will be a daunting task for Cantrell. A Gallup poll of 3,000 adults nationwide taken earlier this month reported that only 63% of Americans would be willing to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine’s effectiveness will be measured not only by how well it works but by how many people agree to be vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has estimated that 75% to 85% of the population will need to get the vaccine before herd immunity is reached. There has always been a relatively small group of Americans who have opposed vaccinations over safety concerns.
‘These streets are built to share’: Coalition works toward making transportation safer and easier for everyone
The city and the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition, a group of organizations, businesses, civic leaders and community members, are on a mission to improve roadways and safe transportation options to enhance health, equity, sustainability, prosperity and quality of life in the city.
“It [NOCSC] really is focused on the fact that we as a coalition believe in constructing streets in a way that best accommodate all people safely and easily, no matter how they travel,” said Dan Favre, executive director of Bike Easy, a local bike advocacy and education program and a part of NOCSC. “Whether you’re someone driving, walking, riding a bike, taking transit or using a wheelchair or other mobility assistance devices, we really think that these streets are built to share.”
Through Moving New Orleans Bikes, a city initiative that began in April of last year that the NOCSC is heavily involved with, New Orleans is embarking on a city-wide bike planning effort, building low-stress bikeways in Central City, The Lower Garden District, Mid-City, Faubourg St. John, the 7th Ward, and the CBD. Data used for construction planning include a bicycle equity index, which looks at where people are shown to have historic disadvantages when it comes to transportation, as well as technical aspects such as street sizes and speed limits. In addition to research and data, feedback from the community has also been incorporated.
The Office of Neighborhood Engagement hosted a pre-construction meeting Thursday to inform Central City and Lower Garden District residents about bicycle infrastructure improvements coming to their neighborhoods. Construction on the project on the East Bank began in August 2020, and the Thursday meeting allowed residents to view the proposals for their area. The project will bring bike lanes and street redesigns to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from St. Charles Avenue to South Broad Street, Melpomene Street from St. Charles Avenue to Camp Street, Baronne Street from Calliope to Phillips Street, South Galvez Street from MLK to Erato Street, and South Broad Street from Fourth Street to Thalia Street.
As part the city’s expansive infrastructure repair program, the Office of Neighborhood Engagement hosted a virtual meeting Tuesday to inform Broadmoor residents on street repair and reconstruction work coming to their neighborhood. This particular project is called Broadmoor Group A, and work is slated to begin in November. The cost of the project will be $13.6 million. The project area will be bounded by South Claiborne Avenue, Eve Street and Toledano Street, extending to Nashville Avenue and Jefferson Avenue on the lake side of South Tonti. The work will include some waterline and sewerage line replacements.
People are getting desperate. Led by an increase in homicides and aggravated assaults, the crime wave sweeping across New Orleans and America can be blamed in large part on COVID-19 and the economic turmoil it has caused. A recent Council on Criminal Justice analysis of homicide rates in 27 U.S. cities found that the sheer number of crimes increased sharply during the summer months. Overall domestic violence and carjackings are also skyrocketing together with drug and gang violence.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s almost singular focus on reducing the virus in Orleans Parish has successfully limited hospitalizations and deaths, especially as the virus’ latest wave is wreaking havoc nationally. We applaud her for those efforts. Yet its accompanying financial devastation is driving up crime in New Orleans as desperate individuals resort to reckless acts to put a few dollars in their pockets.
Along with a very real concern about how to pay the bills during New Orleans’ stalled economic recovery are factors such as an increase in gun sales, mental health issues such as depression, boredom and a lack of interaction with others.
New Orleans is a poor city where the Police Department has perpetually been understaffed and underpaid by regional and national standards.
For the seventh time this year, New Orleans is in the path of a tropical system. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for New Orleans on Tuesday morning, as Hurricane Zeta headed north from the Yucatan Peninsular with a late-Wednesday landfall predicted for southeastern Louisiana. City officials are urging residents to prepare today for a hurricane. To help with that prep, the city is distributing sandbags this morning. District B Councilman Jay Banks announced free sandbag distribution for New Orleans residents at Dryades YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., from 8 a.m. until supplies run out.
On Monday (Oct. 26), the city will host a free flu-shot event at the Audubon Zoo, serving the dual purpose of providing flu shots to residents during flu season and helping public health and safety officials test plans for large-scale vaccine administration in anticipation of a future FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. The New Orleans Medical Reserve Corps and the NOLA Ready Volunteer Corps are recruiting volunteers to assist in this and future vaccine administration events. Volunteers will be assigned various medical and non-medical duties:
Medical providers are needed to give flu shots. Non-medical volunteers are needed to support vaccination site operations, including patient registration, measuring throughput and flow, supply restocking, and logistics support.
The National Weather Service downgraded the hurricane warning for New Orleans to a tropical storm warning early Tuesday, as Hurricane Sally sat in the Gulf of Mexico off the Mississippi-Alabama border. The storm is expected to make landfall late tonight or Wednesday near Mobile, putting New Orleans on Sally’s west side, where the threat is lower. City Hall, NORD, libraries and trash collection will resume normal operations Wednesday. Vehicles will need to be off the neutral grounds by 8 a.m. on Wednesday. The Category 1 storm, which has 85 mph winds, has been moving at 2 miles an hour.