Why Has New Orleans Dropped Its Mask Mandate?

The COVID restrictions which have largely wrecked ordinary life in New Orleans for the past two years are now history, as just after Mardi Gras that city’s mayor LaToya Cantrell dumped the mask mandate which had persisted well beyond the point of rationality.

But why? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t the science. There was a lawsuit by a host of fed-up women, and it was the pressure from the court case which sent Cantrell and her minions into retreat.

From last week

A New Orleans Civil Court judge placed a lawsuit challenging the city’s COVID restrictions on hold after city officials lifted their mask mandate and said they intend to end the city’s vaccine-or-test requirement for most indoor settings later this month.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Rachael Johnson granted a continuance without setting a date for the case to resume at the request of the city’s attorneys. Attorneys for the more than 100 plaintiffs in the case agreed to put the case on hold indefinitely.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys celebrated city officials’ decision to lift the mask mandate, which they said was a result of their legal pressure. The mandate was lifted just hours before New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Orleans Parish School Board President Olin Parker were scheduled to testify in the case.

State Attorney General Jeff Landry, who joined the lawsuit last month, announced Wednesday that Cantrell and Parker had been subpoenaed to testify in the case.

The pair likely would have faced questions about why they had been photographed without masks alongside several other city officials at a Mardi Gras ball while the mandate remained in effect for the city.

“Perhaps this was about politics after all,” Landry said in a statement. “After our subpoenas were issued, the mayor had a choice, lift her mandates or face even more public scrutiny, including criticism of her choice to go maskless while requiring others to mask.”

City officials said the lawsuit had no bearing on the decision.

“As Dr. (Jennifer) Avegno made clear at yesterday’s press conference, this litigation in no way impacts the public health policies for the NOHD (New Orleans Health Department) or Administration,” city communications director Beau Tidwell said. “Policy decisions related to public health guidelines were made based on data and best available information, and were not influenced by, or made in relation to, this legal proceeding or any other.”

Tidwell does nothing but lie – he’s as likely as not to end up in the Biden administration as a press flack because he’s got all the key requirements down pat. They retreated because they could see the way the wind was blowing both in that courtroom and across the country.

The reality on the ground was that nobody was wearing masks anymore. Cantrell’s Mayor’s Ball was an unmitigated PR disaster given that nobody there was wearing masks and there was ample photography to prove it. All the big Mardi Gras balls were supposed to be held under a mask mandate; nobody bothered. And so on.

They’d already passed the point of looking like idiots. It was already obvious that there was no “science” behind any of these mandates. It was all politics and power – making people wear masks is an exercise in authority and dehumanization; if you make people do that, you create an atmosphere of fear and distrust among each other and devotion to authority, and most people who live under that atmosphere become easier to control. We won’t say that had anything to do with Cantrell not catching a legitimate opponent in last fall’s mayoral election after four years of total failure as mayor, but these events are correlative if not causative when laid out as they happened.

And naturally, this was an ineffective, terrible leftist leader who ran around with her head cut off in an effort at “doing something” to address COVID as it wrought havoc among the black community in New Orleans (more early on than after, of course). Cantrell didn’t do anything to effectively address COVID’s effects on that community, of course – getting the whole city to embark on a diet and exercise regime to promote weight loss and basic physical health, so that one of the nation’s fattest cities wouldn’t be a giant mass of comorbidities in the face of the virus, would have done a lot more to save lives than a stupid mask mandate, but Cantrell didn’t want to insult the people whose civil rights she was attacking.


But at the end of the day, when these tactics had clearly outlived their political usefulness and Cantrell faced the prospect of becoming Louisiana’s laughingstock for maintaining her COVID restrictions, she gave up as unceremoniously and quietly as she could.

Landry was spot on when he dinged her for the fact this was all politics from the start.

Among the lessons we can all learn from this, though, are two. First, never trust a word any of these people say when they seek to limit your personal liberties with mask or vaccine mandates, because those are never, ever justified by the reasons they’ll give (and the reasons are always lies). And second, don’t wait – fight from the very beginning. Don’t let these things take hold.

When the pushback got hard enough, Cantrell ran away. This could have happened last year, but it didn’t because people simply weren’t bold enough. That should never be the case again.



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