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Mardi Gras returns to New Orleans with high community vaccination rate

The party made its return Tuesday after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.
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Posted at 11:40 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 14:40:34-05

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans was built on a foundation of world-class tourism. But during the pandemic that all came to a screeching halt.

Vaccines seemed like an easy fix, but there was hesitancy.

That's when the city's culture bearers stepped in.

Musicians, artists, restaurant owners and the Mardi Gras Indians, too.

The New Orleans Health Department says the efforts helped to get vaccination numbers up and the city back open.

New Orleans-born rap artists Mannie Fresh, Juvenile and Mia X changed the popular '90s song from "Back That Thang Up" to "Vax That Thang Up," all to ease worries people had about getting the shot.

New numbers from the city show 84% of adults are vaccinated, pushing New Orleans ahead of the curve in the Southern U.S.

City leaders began offering incentives for getting vaccinated, like giving away crawfish, and restaurants held special events for vaccinated patrons.

The French Quarter is now buzzing with tourists again, and carriage driver Kevin Joseph was just happy to get back to work.

"Communication is still key," he said. "Because we're all human beings and we all get to drive our lives how we want it."

The cultural leaders in New Orleans are getting much of the credit for getting residents vaccinated, back to work and life nearly back to normal.

While vaccination numbers are up, Mayor Latoya Cantrell still required residents and visitors to mask up at a time when most cities are doing away with their masking requirements.

While Cantrell said its because of the large crowds during the Mardi Gras season, many people went without masks and the mayor faced backlash over deleted pictures on social media where she was maskless around crowds at Mardi Gras parties.

A city spokesperson says she only took her mask off to take the photos, eat and drink.

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