The New Orleans health director said she will miss one of the earliest Mardi Gras parades due to safety concerns following recently reimplemented COVID-19 policies.
In a letter to the parade group, Jennifer Avegno said she would opt out of the event as officials were facing increased “negativity and hatred” following the reimplementation of COVID-19 procedures, NOLA.com reported.
“I do not want to create a security risk by my participation,” Avegno wrote.
She added that “the best place for me this year is behind the scenes helping to continue protecting our community.”
On Jan. 11, Avegno, who leads the city’s health department, announced that masks would be required in indoor public spaces in New Orleans.
The theme for the parade, scheduled for Feb. 12, is “Vaxxed and Confused.” The Krewe du Vieux said the float for Avegno, whom they consider queen of the festivities, will still be included in the parade, The Associated Press reported.
“Krewe du Vieux will spare no effort in making sure that her decision receives our Krewe’s signature treatment during the parade,” the group said following her decision, the AP added.
This year, Carnival will carry on despite increasing COVID-19 infections. As of Tuesday, Louisiana reported 9,104 new COVID-19 infections. Those who are not fully vaccinated accounted for 68 percent of cases between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12 and 71 percent of current COVID hospitalizations, according to the state’s health department.
In 2021, city officials canceled parades, and officials have said they consider the events that occurred in 2020 a super spreader early on in the pandemic, the AP also noted.