Southern Decadence, New Orleans’ self-proclaimed “Gay Mardi Gras,” takes place over Labor Day weekend in September. The festival had over 275,000 participants in 2019, but owing to health concerns over COVID-19, it was canceled in 2020 and all but canceled in 2021.
A spokesman for Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office praised the cancellation of several key Southern Decadence events last year: "The safety of all people should be everyone’s top priority."
This year, there is concern whether New Orleans has a sufficient number of monkeypox vaccines ahead of the festival. Shantel Hebert-Magee, regional medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health Region 1, claimed that Louisiana "has very limited allocation" of the vaccine.
The LDH identified the first case of monkeypox in a Louisiana resident on July 7. There are presently 58 infected, 42 of whom are in southeast Louisiana.
Dr. Brobson Lutz, former health director for New Orleans, told Fox 8 that the “Orleans Parish area is the epicenter for the cases in the state.” He noted that Southern Decadence, "where you've got a large number of gay men coming together, who are likely to be in close personal contact," will be the "ideal setting to transmit it," but may also be a good opportunity to "get people immunized."
Samuel Burgess, STD/HIV/hepatitis program director at LDH, said the virus disproportionately affects gay people and bisexuals. Rosamund Lewis, the World Health Organization's monkeypox expert, revealed that 99% of those infected are men and 95% are gay men.
As TheBlaze reported on July 28, the director-general of the WHO just recently recommended that "men who have sex with men" should limit sexual partners in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
Those infected with monkeypox may experience a painful rash that can look like pimples or blisters, respiratory problems, exhaustion, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and chills. Like COVID, monkeypox can be spread via respiratory droplets, through "direct contact with a rash or sores of someone who has the virus," and through "contact with clothing, bedding and other items used by a person" with the virus.
The pain is said to be "unimaginable."