A four-day swingers convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, has led to 41 new coronavirus infections.
The event organizer, Bob Hannaford, shared blog post on Friday detailing how he and his team were reaching out to attendees to urge them to get tested, and apologized for holding the event.
"If I could go back in time, I would not produce this event again," he wrote." Even though most of the 41 positive cases have mostly been asymptomatic or very mild cases. The reason I wouldn’t is that I know of two people who had a tougher time and they were suffering. One of them, a good friend of mine, was hospitalized in serious condition."
The "Naughty N’awlins" convention began on Nov. 11 and had roughly 300 attendees. Hannaford maintains that he and his company worked hard to create what they thought would be a safe environment.
"We went to extraordinary measures for check-in and instituted a touchless process with required temperature checks, social distancing in line, and sanitizing upon check-in. We issued wristbands in one color to indicate who had antibodies and therefore was not contagious. We issued a second color to those that showed us a very recent negative COVID-19 test. The wristbands even had each person’s date of their test circled," he explained.
"Over 50% of our attendees had the antibodies and many of the rest got tested right before the event. We were feeling better and better about the risk potential as the event was about to kick off," Hannaford added. "We required masks in all public places and told them they would have to wear them in elevators and even in our parties and while up on the rooftop pool."
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Hannaford claimed that as the event progressed, "complacency set in" during the latter days, causing the virus to spread among his guests.
"When we contacted the people that were positive, we asked them several questions to find more potential positive cases and try to find out where the biggest risks took place," he wrote. "In almost every case, they admitted to us that they were super diligent on the first two days (Wed & Thurs) and then they relaxed a little on Friday and then they said 'F— it, it’s our last day' and many admitted that their lax effort on that final day is probably why they ended up positive."
At the time of the "Naughty N’awlins" convention, New Orleans had loosened it's COVID-19 restrictions and entered Phase 3.3 of their reopening plan, which allowed increased gathering and indoor seating sizes.
However, indoor events were still capped at 100 people, NBC reported. A spokesperson for the city told NBC that the Naughty Events convention did not have a permit for the event.
Since then, the city has once again tightened protocols and entered back into Phase 2, which took effect on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
"Sometimes it is O.K. to admit that we do not have the answers. I don’t have the answer now, and I didn’t have the answer on November 11th, the day our event started. But I wouldn’t do it again if I knew then, what I know now. It weighs on me and it will continue to weigh on me until everyone is 100% better," Hannaford wrote.
On Tuesday, at least 35 new coronavirus deaths and 5,326 new cases were reported in Louisiana. Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,905 new cases in the state per day, per a New York Times database.
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