Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands
Coronavirus has NOLA tourism leaders taking precautions
Communicable diseases bring a certain dread to those who work in the tourism and hospitality industry. Since news of Coronavirus, or Covid-19, first made headlines, those who are responsible for the health and safety of travelers and conveners have been preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.
Locally, New Orleans & Company, the destination marketing and economic development organization, has been working with health officials, its members and industry partners to mitigate the concerns of travelers to our region.
In a letter to members, New Orleans & Company president and CEO Stephen Perry said, “Although there are no confirmed cases of the virus in or near Louisiana, we have been in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide you with the latest updates on precautionary guidelines that we should all be taking to allay heightened concerns.”
New Orleans & Company created a dedicated webpage with a Coronavirus toolkit that is updated regularly with pertinent announcements from local travel hubs including Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) and the Port of New Orleans regarding cruise passengers. It also has information and links to New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and conference industry leaders such as the International Associate of Exhibitions and Events and Meetings Mean Business.
Nationally, numerous conventions have been cancelled out of an abundance of caution to prevent people’s potential exposure to Coronavirus. The JOC TPM conference in Long Beach, California, the American Physical Society in Denver, Colorado, and multiple tech conferences by the likes of Google and Facebook throughout California were cancelled. To date, no conventions scheduled for New Orleans have been cancelled due to the virus.
In his letter, Perry said, “We are closely monitoring how upcoming global trade shows and conferences are being impacted and are helping event planners prepare for and respond to attendee and stakeholder concerns, paying close attention to those with a strong international attendee base.”
New Orleans & Company is also conducting a survey of its members to find out what precautions they are taking to protect their property from the spread of both Coronavirus and the flu, beyond the normal hygienic procedures the businesses typically practice. Perry points out that effectively communicating the steps businesses are taking will help alleviate visitor, customer and employee concerns. The CDC recommends increasing the frequency of wiping down surfaces and providing hand sanitizer in common areas for guests to use.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of the evening of March 3, there were 64 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. and nine deaths. All of the deaths were in Washington state. Internationally, there were 91,783 confirmed cases throughout 74 countries, with 3,123 deaths.
Just like the common cold, there are simple measures that should be taken to prevent exposure to the virus. The WHO has a helpful webpage with videos and advice for the public. Some of the most important safety measures are:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Maintain social distance.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you sneeze.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.