Students prepare for Mardi Gras despite uncertainty


Issabelle Vu

Illustration by Issabelle Vu

Deja Magee, Staff Writer

New Orleans residents are wondering how the city will handle this year’s Mardi Gras celebration as the omicron variant of COVID-19 looms over the heads of the city’s population.
Tulane epidemiology professor Susan Hassig said that if numbers stay down like they have, the city will be able to enjoy the carnival season safely, but some residents still aren’t sure.
Mass communication senior Madison Gearhart had COVID-19 last semester and said she doesn’t want to take any risks of becoming infected again.
“I’m not sure if I feel too well about Mardi Gras still taking place,” Gearhart said.
But Hassig said that due to the variant being milder than previous variants of the coronavirus, the city is in a better position to host carnival season than it might have been in the case of a different variant.
“It’s still a lot of cases, but it’s a much better place to be,” Hassig said.
Gearhart said she’s also concerned with the university’s ability to continue in person if Mardi Gras causes an outbreak of the virus, especially after this semester started online due to a high number of cases caused by the variant.
“I wouldn’t want to go online during my last few months,” Gearhart said.
Marketing junior Farah Wells said she was also initially intimidated by Mardi Gras operating at full capacity this year.
“You can never fully know how (COVID-19) is going to affect you,” she said.
But many of Wells’ worries went away when she got COVID-19 at the beginning of January. Now that she’ll have more protection from getting the virus again, she said she’s excited to participate in the city’s celebration of carnival.
“I am most looking forward to watching the New Orleans culture come alive again because that’s when I’m most proud to be from here,” she said.
And New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell said that the celebration is definitely on.
“Without a doubt, we will have Mardi Gras,” she said at her Jan. 6 King’s Day public address.
Cantrell imposed an indoor mask mandate in hopes of cutting down transmission in preparation for the season. The city’s vaccination requirement and negative COVID-19 test for bars, restaurants, and music venues will be put in place for the duration of the Mardi Gras season.
“The city is really committed to making Mardi Gras work,” Hassig said. “I think that we have a real shot at being able to enjoy Mardi Gras.”
Regardless of her hope to celebrate safely, Hassig advised the community members to wear masks and continue social distancing if planning to attend parades and other social events.
If everything “looks safe,” Gearhart is prepared to move forward in celebrating carnival.
“I have been trying to figure out outfits where I could wear a matching mask,” she said.