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41 people who attended New Orleans swingers convention have COVID-19

More than 40 people have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a New Orleans swingers convention, which local officials are now calling a “superspreader event.” 

According to The Washington Post, approximately 250 people participated in the event at a New Orleans hotel on Nov. 14. Just more than two weeks later, 41 attendees had contracted the infection. 

The outbreak was first reported by NOLA.com on Tuesday after Bob Hannaford, the organizer of the annual Naughty in N'awlins swingers gathering, published a blog post last week admitting organizational failures that likely contributed to the spread. 

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"If I could go back in time, I would not produce this event again," Hannaford wrote. "I wouldn’t do it again if I knew then what I know now. It weighs on me and it will continue to weigh on me until everyone is 100% better."

Hannaford noted that while most of the cases were “asymptomatic or very mild,” a “good friend” who attended the event was “hospitalized in serious condition,” although he has since been released. 

A spokesman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya CantrellLaToya CantrellNew Orleans to allow live music indoors for first time since pandemic began Colorado governor says state, local officials key to federal COVID response The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis MORE (D) told the Post that the swingers event was a “very stark example of what can happen when you don’t obey the social distance guidelines.”

The gathering was significantly smaller than the 2,000 that attended last year, and Hannaford wrote that event organizers consulted with city and state officials leading up to the event. 

Hannaford added that more than 50 percent of the attendees had tested positive for antibodies and “many of the rest got tested right before the event.” 

Attendees were also given wristbands, with one color indicating if the person had antibodies and the other if the person had recently tested negative. Hannaford said that attendees had to either test negative for the coronavirus or prove that they had antibodies, assuming that those carrying coronavirus antibodies were “not contagious.” 

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Hannaford wrote that diaries were also issued to attendees to keep track of everyone they had contact with throughout the event. 

Despite these measures, Hannaford wrote that he started getting text messages and emails the day after the event from attendees informing the organizers of positive tests. 

Hannaford said by that Wednesday, event organizers had counted 29 cases, making it up to 41 in the latest count last week. 

“We have no idea how many people got tested after our event, nor if anyone tested positive and didn’t tell us,” the event organizer explained in the blog post. “There could also be people that are positive, but without symptoms, so they never got tested.”

“We immediately reached out to everyone and urged them to get tested, whether they had symptoms or not,” Hannaford added. “We also urged each person with a positive test to contact us so we could start contact tracing.” 

This comes as the Louisiana Department of Health has recorded a total of 241,335 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 6,501 fatalities as a result of the virus. On Wednesday, there were 3,604 newly confirmed infections, as well as 46 new deaths.