WATCH: New Orleans public health and safety leaders announce coronavirus response plan

Coronavirus
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NEW ORLEANS – On Friday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, public health and safety officials, and private sector partners completed a COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) preparedness exercise, testing response plans in the event of an outbreak in New Orleans.

“While New Orleans has not had any confirmed cases, we need to be ready for the real possibility that COVID-19 comes here,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Today’s exercise confirmed that the City of New Orleans and its partners are prepared. I’m also asking every resident and visitor to do their part to help prevent the spread of illness.”

The tabletop exercise, coordinated by the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP) and the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD), challenged participants to walk through a variety of scenarios in which novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, spreads in New Orleans. For each scenario local, state, and federal officials, and stakeholders in the healthcare, education, and hospitality communities discussed their response plans.

“This region is no stranger to emergency preparedness,” said NOHSEP Director Collin Arnold. “I’m grateful to all of our partners who have come together quickly to address this rapidly changing situation. While I hope these plans are not needed, I’m confident we’re ready for whatever comes our way.” 

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) is leading the State’s efforts to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 cases. A screening process is in place for doctors to identify potential cases and coordinate immediate testing with LDH. Locally, NOHD is in constant communication with healthcare providers to communicate the most up-to-date guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and LDH.

“Our Emergency Preparedness team is trained to think about worst case scenarios,” said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, Director of Health. “But right now, the best way to limit the spread of illness is to take commonsense measures including washing your hands regularly, staying home if you’re sick, and covering your cough.” 

The City of New Orleans is also communicating regularly with stakeholders in the school, business, hospitality, and house of worship communities to ensure these entities have the most up-to-date information and are taking the appropriate steps to prepare. At this time, the City of New Orleans is not recommending any changes to normal operations of businesses, schools, or other organizations.

COVID-19 is thought to spread between people in close contact (within 6 feet) and through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in New Orleans or Louisiana and the risk of the general public contracting COVID-19 is considered to be very low.  

Residents and visitors are encouraged to take the following actions to prevent the spread of any respiratory illness, including COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you feel sick to prevent the spread of any infection.
  • Cover your cough with your elbow to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Healthy individuals do not need to wear a face mask.
  • Get the flu vaccination to help prevent the flu, which has similar symptoms as COVID-19.
  • Have adequate food and medication on hand, so that you don’t have to go to the store while sick.

Tabletop exercise participants included local, regional, state, federal, and private sector representatives from the following disciplines:

  • Public health and hospitals
  • Public safety and law enforcement
  • Transportation
  • Education
  • Business
  • Tourism and hospitality

To view the city’s coronavirus plan, click here.

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