POV: As a new variant threatens the city, maskless officials send a dangerous message

When elected officials in New Orleans don’t feel the urgency to consistently wear masks during carnival festivities, how can they expect citizens and visitors to take the rules seriously? Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor exploded with posts this week regarding the reckless behavior of Mayor LaToya Cantrell, her best friends and others whose images were captured without a mask at the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball on Friday night. last. National and international media attention has been considerable.

“Why waste your emotions on this,” wrote Daveida Pittman on Nextdoor. “We all know what it is. But the citizens elected her again, so apparently people like hypocrisy….” New Orleans residents understand that the rules put in place by Cantrell allow masks to be removed when eating or drinking. Most of the Gallier Hall video and other footage available appears to show the masks were barely worn once the party kicked into high gear After all, it’s hard to dance and sing comfortably while wearing one medical grade mask.

Everybody makes mistakes. So why the mayor Cantrell it is not to say she’s sorry? Probably because it does not feel more sorry for his behavior Friday night that she feels sorry I had a good time in many parades and parades recently. It is “unfortunate” that the mask was not a priority at the ball of the mayor. What is even more regrettable is that the other civic leaders and elected without mask present do not have either met the expectations of voters. There were very few models in the crowd.

Some New Orleans residents have decided to limit their exposure to the pandemic during Mardi Gras by skipping a few parades or other mass events. Like most readers, I’ve always enjoyed a good parade. Catching pearls that quickly clutter our closets is one of the simple pleasures of living in New Orleans. In an effort to limit my risk of getting sick, I have only attended one parade so far this year. We arrived early, sat in a nearly empty area and left before the parade was over. Our masks were on all the time. Although I plan to attend more events this weekend, I definitely plan to wear a mask.

The number of cases of the Omicron variant is declining in Louisiana and nearly every other state. New Orleans Department of Health Director Jennifer Avegno said yesterday that 67% of New Orleans residents are fully immunized. With most Carnival festivities taking place outdoors and the weather looming, what’s the point of going without a mask?

According to National Public Radio, a new variant even more contagious BA.2, made his way across the United States. BA.2 and is thought to spread 30% more easily than his brother omicron. Released in South America and has already crossed Europe to the United States, BA.2 could easily become the dominant variant of the country later this spring. A German doctor has noted that the “long Covid” will not be a problem for many patients BA.2 because they will die quickly.

The free Covid-19 home test kits that the New Orleans Department of Health will be handing out at the Muses Parade can be a great resource for New Orleans residents who might be infected. If you’re not feeling well, be sure to test early and often.

DOES S&WB DIRECTOR GHASSAN KORBAN DESERVE TO EARN $322,000 A YEAR?

It’s never good when the FBI pays you a surprise visit or investigative journalists frequently develop stories about your employees or operations.

If New Orleans residents really want serious issues to complain about, the Sewerage & Water Board should be at the top of their list. From frequent flooding due to ongoing problems with pumps, endless billing errors, non-disabled employees selfishly using disabled parking stickers, and constant boil water advisories, there’s something every not everyone likes.

We can now add the ousting of two senior S&WB officials who had built their own small organized crime ring, specializing in payroll fraud and involving private contractors as well as other city employees.

Korban, executive director of S&WB, admitted he had no idea of ​​the illegal shenanigans going on under his nose and said he would have acted quickly if he had known. It’s amazing that over the past three years, Korban hasn’t earned enough loyalty from his own staff (a nicer way of saying he needs more spies) to know where all the bodies are buried. The S&WB has just approved a 9.5% raise for Korban. Is this a person who deserves to earn more than $300,000 a year while many New Orleans residents are still suffering the economic hardship of the pandemic — and ever-rising utility bills?

To be fair, when Korban was hired nearly four years ago, he took over as head of a badly broken agency that no captain has been able to control for decades. Members of the Public Service Board of Directors, nearly all of Cantrell’s appointees, as well as many members of the public, believe Korban is doing an outstanding job of trying to right the ship. He seems like a nice guy but the proof is in the pudding. It’s high time for Korban to clean up his internal mess and move forward at full speed.

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursday. His career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board, and the Orleans Parish School Board and past clients such as former District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Councilman Jared Brossett, Councilman General Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lieutenant Governor. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former city councilors Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. She is a member of the Democratic Parish Executive Committee. Columbus can be reached at swampednola@gmail.com.

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