Mardi Gras would have been cancelled if Donald Trump had warned New Orleans’ Mayor LaToya Cantrell about a possible coronavirus pandemic.
But as the state of Louisiana recorded the fastest growth rate of new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Mayor Cantrell told CNN that there had been no warning from the federal government to delay Mardi Gras festivities in February.
New Orleans now appears to be at the centre of a pandemic in Louisiana, recording 997 of the state’s 2,300 cases of the coronavirus on Thursday afternoon.
“Leaders on the ground, we rely on the facts to make decisions for the people that we serve.”, said Ms Cantrell.
Claiming that there were no “red flags” in February about Mardi Gras, she added: “In hindsight, if we were given clear direction, we would not have had Mardi Gras, and I would have been the leader to cancel it.”
The New Orleans carnival was held from January 6 to February 25 this year, and typically sees as much as 1.4m visitors from around the world.
Although warnings that the coronavirus would spread in the US came as early as two weeks before Mardi Gras celebrations were planned, New Orleans’ Mayor confirmed to CNN that her actions were “backed up by the response of our national leader,” appearing to refer to president Trump.
“I think it all boils down to Mardi Gras,” said Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr. to the New York Times. “The greatest free party in the world was a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Johnson Denson told NBC News that he “diagnosed the second case, the first critically ill patient, here last weekend”
The doctor added: “I think it came during Mardi Gras, given the timing of it. Someone brought it here and then it starts spreading slowly,”
On Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards requested a Major Disaster Declaration for the state – two days after issuing a stay-at-home order for all residents.