New Orleans businessmen say city must reopen soon to save economy

Published 5:00 pm Sunday, April 19, 2020

A group of local businessmen is urging government leaders to reopen New Orleans, underscoring the friction between shutting down the economy and curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

In a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, they say “a managed return to work” on May 1 is needed to save the city’s tourism industry and other businesses.

“The deeply unsustainable cancellation of all public events in our city for 2020 will irreparably damage if not destroy our city’s culturally important French Quarter – our tourist industry, and most businesses in general,” the four businessmen wrote.

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The “heart and soul of our city cannot survive this complete ban on conventions and events” that drive the New Orleans’ economy and “staying closed is not a plan,” they wrote.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Sunday reported 29 more deaths statewide from COVID-19. That is down from a peak daily total of 129 deaths on April 14. Nearly 1,750 people are hospitalized in Louisiana, down from a peak of 2,134 hospitalized patients about a week ago.

The number of people hospitalized has been on a downward trend in recent days amid the global pandemic.

“What we would like to see is a continued downward trajectory tomorrow and Tuesday and on through the week,” the governor said at a Sunday briefing.

“We are in a much better place today than we thought we were going to be,” he said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that usually clear up within weeks. For some, it can cause severe illness and be life-threatening.