The mayor of New Orleans shifted blame for the decision to go forward with the Mardi Gras parade by pointing to the federal government's lack of urgency about coronavirus at the time, according to Business Insider.
The Mardi Gras celebrations occurred on Feb. 25, and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she went forward with the parade because she didn't get any "red flags" from the Trump administration at the time. Now, Louisiana is dealing with a quickly escalating coronavirus outbreak.
"When it's not taken seriously on the federal level, it's very difficult to transcend down to the local level in making these decisions," Cantrell told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "But when the experts told me that social gatherings would be an issue, I moved forward with canceling them."
Cantrell also said that the lack of warning from the federal government "was backed up by the response of our national leader."
"No red flags were given" by the federal government. - New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on why the city moved forw… https://t.co/G5w2R0QXqR— The Situation Room (@The Situation Room) 1585265093.0
On Feb. 24, President Donald Trump said, "The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA."
On Feb. 25, he said, "You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They're all getting better. … As far as what we're doing with the new virus, I think that we're doing a great job."
Trump declared a national emergency for the coronavirus on March 13. Mayor Cantrell ordered bars and restaurants shut down on March 16.
Still, the Mardi Gras celebration presented an obvious risk in terms of spreading disease, with numerous people in close quarters and less-than-sanitary conditions in the New Orleans streets.
"New Orleans had its normal level of celebration, which involved people congregating in large crowds and some 1.4 million tourists," said Dr. Rebekah Gee, the head of Louisiana State University's healthcare services division, according to Business Insider. "We shared drink cups. We shared each other's space in the crowds. People were in close contact catching beads. It is now clear that people also caught coronavirus."
Orleans Parish, where New Orleans is located, has the highest per-capita rate of coronavirus infections in the nation, and the state of Louisiana has more than 2,300 positive cases and 83 deaths.