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After mostly maskless Saints game, New Orleans officials express concern amid COVID progress

The New Orleans Saints went 637 days between Sunday's game and the last time the Superdome allowed a full capacity crowd, and now Mayor LaToya Cantrell's administration is saying they are concerned about spectators not wearing masks.

"Looking at some of the footage, there wasn't a lot of mask-wearing," said Beau Tidwell, Cantrell's director of communications, at a press conference Tuesday.

The city urged for more mask enforcement during future games. Caesars Superdome requires proof of a vaccine or a negative COVID test from the past 72 hours to enter the game and that attendees wear a mask unless eating or drinking.

Over 69,000 people attended the game witnessing a Saints overtime loss to the New York Giants. The Saints will not have another home game until October 31, when the team faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 3:25 p.m.

“You’ve heard us say at every stage, what happens next depends on what we do right now,” said Tidwell. “We’re going to encourage everybody, when you’re out there, please remain masked up, please remain vigilant.”

Caesars Superdome officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tidwell said the COVID rates have remained low in the city, with 36 daily cases of the virus and 82.5% of the eligible population having been vaccinated against it, which far outpaces the state’s rate at 56.4%. The positivity rate for the city is 2.5%, said Tidwell.

Pfizer booster shots are also available for seniors and people with underlying medical conditions, and city officials urged those who qualify to get the third shot if it’s been more than six months since their second dose.

Despite coronavirus cases slowing in the city and state, Tidwell said this still isn't the time to think about removing COVID-19 rules currently in place, like the mask mandate and the proof-of-vaccine requirement.

And children under 12 are still not eligible to take the vaccine, which could cause complications for the Halloween parade scheduled later this month.

Krewe of Boo, Cantrell announced last week, will be the first parade to roll in New Orleans in 19 months and could be a test in deciding on Mardi Gras’ return. The city has not announced whether Mardi Gras festivities will take place in 2022 but has said they are working with Krewe leaders to plan Carnival season activities with coronavirus safety in mind.

Copyright 2021 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

Ryan Nelsen