Louisiana is scheduled to enter Phase 2 of coronavirus reopening as early as next week. But even if that happens, there’s no guarantee that New Orleans will as well.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has yet to decide whether Phase 2 will start on June 5 as planned. But at a news conference on Friday morning, New Orleans Health Department Director Jennifer Avegno said it might be ill advised for New Orleans to follow the same timeline.
“In my opinion that [start date] might be a little premature,” Avegno said.
By the time Phase 2 is scheduled to start, Phase 1 will have been in practice for three weeks. Avegno said this may not be enough time to fully understand the impacts of Phase 1.
Louisiana entered Phase 1 of reopening on May 15, while New Orleans started a day later.
“If we are more restrictive it’s because we want to give ourselves as much data as possible,” Avegno said.
While they’re working with the state, Avegno said they’re inclined to take a more cautious approach given New Orleans' unique position.
“We’ve always said that New Orleans has to be more careful because what happens regionally affects us more than it does a lot of other places,” Avegno said.
Avegno is still waiting to see whether large gatherings along Gulf Coast beaches during Memorial Day lead to significant spread that could disproportionately impact New Orleans.
She said she’d like to wait two to three weeks after Memorial Day to ensure there’s isn’t a spike in cases. Memorial Day was May 25.
As of Friday morning, Orleans Parish has 7,067 known COVID-19 cases and 505 deaths.
Edwards is expected to make a decision on Phase 2 reopening by June 1.