Parades Are Back: How to Celebrate Mardi Gras Safely During COVID-19
After not having Mardi Gras parades take to the streets in 2021, it’s safe to say Louisianians are ready to let the good times roll! But precautions must be taken as it appears COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere - anytime soon.
It’s important to remember that as we celebrate the Carnival season, we must remain diligent in our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Much of the Mardi Gras magic happens outdoors along the parade route. While outdoor activity does have a decreased risk, the crowds are large, with everyone chanting, “Throw me something, mister.” So how can you stay safe along the parade route while surrounded by thousands of people? The CDC offers these tips to help keep you and your family safe while enjoying the Carnival season:
- Be sure to get everyone in your family, ages 5-years old and older, vaccinated.
- If you are eligible, get your booster dose.
- Wear a mask indoors except when eating or drinking.
- Consider testing before attending a parade or other gathering.
- Stay home if you test positive, even if you do not have symptoms.
- Stay home if you are sick.
If you are attending parades in New Orleans, the city has a vaccine and mask mandate currently in place, and that mandate will remain in effect at least through the Carnival season. This means Mardi Gras revelers 5 years and older will need proof of full vaccination (or a negative test taken within 72 hours) to enter indoor spaces, such as restaurants and event spaces. Full vaccination is two doses of a two-dose vaccine series (Pfizer and Moderna), or one dose of a single-dose vaccine series (J&J). The citywide indoor mask mandate does apply to Mardi Gras activities including Mardi Gras balls, receptions and after-parties.
The city of New Orleans also has mandated that krewes and marching club groups be fully vaccinated or provide a negative test taken 72 hours before the parade rolls.
If you are attending large events, like parades, there are risk factors to consider, including:
- The number of COVID-19 cases: High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the event location or the locations the attendees are coming from increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. When more people in the community have COVID-19 there is a higher risk that people can expose others. Many people travel from other areas to take part in Mardi Gras celebrations, and the areas they travel from could have high levels of COVID-19. Anytime many people gather from different areas, the risk of exposure increases.
- Length of the event: Events that last longer pose more risk than shorter events. Being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period) greatly increases the risk of becoming infected.
- Number and crowding of people at the event: Events with more people increase the likelihood of being exposed. Physical distancing at events can reduce transmission.
- The behavior of attendees during an event: Events where people engage in behaviors such as interacting with others from outside their own household, singing, shouting, not maintaining physical distancing or not wearing masks consistently and correctly, can increase risk.
- City vaccination rate: In New Orleans, 82% of people 18 and older have been fully vaccinated. However, just 38.6% of the 5- to 17- year-old population has been fully vaccinated. In Jefferson Parish, just over 276,000 people are fully vaccinated, or about 63%. However, only 7.85% of 5 to 17-year-olds are full vaccinated. In Baton Rouge, 54.5% of the region is fully vaccinated, while only 8.7% of kids aged 5- to 17-year-olds are vaccinated.
The time has come to dance in the streets, wear our purple, green and gold, and indulge in king cake! Let’s celebrate safely as we resume this tradition as only Louisianians can.
For more information on COVID-19, testing and vaccines, visit: https://www.ochsner.org/coronavirus