EDITORIAL: New Orleans is putting profit over its people

Maleigh Crespo, Op/Ed Editor

Last year’s absence of Carnival and the superspreader event of the 2020 parade season has us feeling cautiously optimistic about this year’s Mardi Gras festivities.

We began the semester virtually due to the surge in cases in the city, and many of us are terrified that the aftermath of parade season will land us back on Zoom, accepting our diplomas on a computer screen again.

But if the parade season is going to happen anyway, who can blame us for wanting to branch out and enjoy one of the reasons many of us came to New Orleans in the first place?

We don’t want to be a part of a Mardi Gras celebration that puts us online, but we also don’t want to sit at home and watch our peers on the news as floats roll down St. Charles Avenue.

We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The city of New Orleans is currently experiencing a severe outbreak of COVID-19 cases after the eruption of the Omicron variant in late December. With the number of cases on the rise, going back online permanently doesn’t seem too far-fetched, and we’re scared.

We know that Loyola cannot prevent Mardi Gras or anyone going out, but we want them to acknowledge the ambivalence we’re feeling toward the season, especially with the uncertainty concerning the changes happening in our university’s leadership.

As of February 1st, New Orleans has entered the “Modified Phase 3” of city guidelines which includes a citywide mask mandate, proof of full vaccination status, and/or proof of a negative rapid or PCR test dated within 72 hours to attend any public venue or event in the city.

But are we sure bars and restaurants are going to check? Will anybody mask up on the parade route to ensure we get to go back to our classes in person?

Mardi Gras is a huge event that brings millions of dollars to the city, but it seems as if the city, and the state, are putting economic stability over the health of its people.

Although it’s a substantial source of income for the state, Carnival is not just a moneymaker for New Orleans, it’s an international tourist attraction, bringing not only millions of dollars but millions of people.

We support a Mardi Gras built for locals with restrictions, but the city should be willing to sacrifice a pre-pandemic Mardi Gras experience for the health and safety of its residents.

Crime during Carnival is also a worry.

Due to the influx of tourists and parade participants, the city is struggling with understaffing of police for the festivities, and many of the parade routes were altered.

In 2017, a man drove onto the curb at Endymion and injured 28 people. In 2020, multiple people died from being run over by floats.

Do we even have the resources to manage something like this?

Regardless, many of us aren’t going to stay home. We’ve been inside far too long, and we deserve to enjoy the parade season once again.

We don’t want to throw caution completely out of the window, but at the end of the day, no matter how careful we are, there is still a chance that we will end the semester virtually, leaving us weighing our options.

Although we’re thrilled to have Mardi Gras back, the thought of graduating from Zoom is harrowing.

The fate of our future hangs in the balance.

Loyola prioritizes caring for the whole person, and we’d hope that everyone within our community would remember that whether they’re catching a pair of beads on the route or watching spectators wave their hands on TV from their couches.