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A look at the COVID survey, protocols in New Orleans ahead of Krewe of Boo's return

Copyright: Heather Smith/Flickr
Krewe of Boo Parade New Orleans 2017

The Krewe of Boo will kick off the return of parades in New Orleans and the start of COVID-19 protocols that city officials hope will bring back Mardi Gras 2022 safely.

Participants rolling or marching in the parade, which takes place Saturday, will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test, as well as remain masked up during the festivities, according to the Times-Picayune.

Centers for Disease Control guidelines say masks do not need to be worn outdoors, but Dr. Jennifer Avegno noted during a Tuesday press conference that an outdoor parade poses a higher risk of transmission when people are in a crowd yelling for throws. She urged spectators to also wear their masks, especially if they have unvaccinated children with them.

“We’re hoping people will do the right thing,” Avegno said.

Officials are also testing the waters for a potential return of Carnival by implementing participatory surveillance at Krewe of Boo. Avegno said the health department’s employees will be along the parade route asking for krewe members and revelers to submit their contact information and complete a brief survey by scanning a QR code posted on signs carried by health department employees. Submissions are anonymous but will be used to collect data by health officials.

Those who participate will be given a goodie bag, which will include at-home rapid COVID-19 tests that are able to send results to the Louisiana Department of Health.

A week after the Halloween parade, Avegno said parade goers can expect to receive a follow-up survey.

“We cannot prove our hypothesis and move forward if we don’t have the appropriate data,” Avegno said, adding that it would be ideal to have at least 1,000 participants.

If the rules and surveillance system prove to be successful, Avegno said her team hopes to implement it at future events — they’ve even discussed bringing it to Carnival.

Krewe of Boo in 2020 was canceled and Mardi Gras 2021 parades didn’t roll due to the coronavirus. It was because of Mardi Gras 2020, which occurred just as the virus was showing up in the U.S., that New Orleans and Louisiana became one of the nation’s first hotspots.

The Halloween-themed event this weekend is the first permitted parade to roll in the city in 18 months.

A decision on whether or not Mardi Gras 2022 will happen has not yet been made by city officials, but Mayor LaToya Cantrell has hinted at implementing vaccine mandates at the airport during the busy two-week stretch of Carnival festivities.

Beau Tidwell, the mayor’s spokesperson, said during the Tuesday press conference that the current vaccine mandate, which requires proof of vaccine or a negative coronavirus test to enter some businesses, will stay in place come Carnival season. Fat Tuesday is March 1.

Katelyn Umholtz is the digital editor for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of New Orleans.

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