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New Orleans chef welcomes new mask mandate: 'Let’s just do the right thing'

With cases the way they are now, what’s going to happen with Mardi Gras on the horizon?

NEW ORLEANS — Dr. Jennifer Avegno announced Tuesday morning that they City of New Orleans is going backwards in its fight against the coronavirus, saying “there continues to be substantial transmission of COVID-19 and the continued risk of overwhelming hospitals and disrupting schools The City of New Orleans is instituting the indoor mask mandate at all indoor spaces.”

Indoor spaces like the dining room at Lil Dizzy’s Café in the Treme, where the head chef John Cannon IV says, with COVID cases on the rise, he welcomes anything that will help keep the community safe

"It becomes a domino effect when we don’t do the right thing," Cannon said. "So, the best thing to do is mask up. I encourage everybody who is not vaccinated, get vaccinated."

Cannon says that negative domino effect has already taken a toll on the business in the restaurant.

"Even with the influx of people we are used to seeing come in, they haven’t returned yet not to full capacity,” he said. “As you can see, the dining room is empty right now on a Tuesday afternoon.”

With cases the way they are now, what’s going to happen with Mardi Gras on the horizon?

"What happens like with the last time, when we did have Mardi Gras and everybody left and New Orleans was a hotbed for COVID?" he said.

A concern shared by Dr. Avegno  

"We did not know the consequences of this two years ago, but we certainly know them now and it would be irresponsible not to act," she said.

Even if new cases begin to taper off in the next week or so, as many health officials believe.

"Hospitalizations and deaths will lag likely through at least the next month and that’s right up to the time in which individual from areas with lower vaccination rates and later omicron surges may be at our doorstep," Dr. Avegno said.

Which is why Chef Cannon says the city as a whole needs to do everything it can now. 

"We can’t move forward without doing the right thing and without conforming to today’s terms," Cannon said. "The masks, they have worked. It’s proven that they work. So, let’s just do the right thing so that we can have Mardi Gras and everything else that comes after.”

According to the CDC, in total, under 40% of people in New Orleans are fully vaccinated plus boosted.