One of those attendees was hospitalized in serious condition but has since been released, said Bob Hannaford, the organizer of the annual Naughty in N’awlins swingers gathering. Most of the cases were asymptomatic or very mild, he said.
“If I could go back in time, I would not produce this event again,” he wrote Friday in a blog post about this year’s event. “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.”
Naughty in N’awlins was much smaller this year with more restrictions. While some 2,000 attended last year, about 250 people checked in at the NOPSI Hotel for the first day of the event, Hannaford previously told NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate.
Masks were worn at events, social distancing was enforced, contact diaries were kept and attendees were tested for the virus or antibodies before the gathering, he wrote.
“Over 50% of our attendees had the antibodies and many of the rest got tested right before the event,” he wrote.
He said he blames complacency for the spread of the virus, based on his conversations with attendees as part of contact tracing efforts.
“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,” he wrote.
At the time of the event, a city spokesman said it expected “full compliance” with safety guidelines from event attendees.
While Hannaford said earlier this month he thought the event was responsible, it also occurred in the middle of a national surge in coronavirus cases. Many convention attendees were from out of state. Then and now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that “staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
Hannaford’s blog post did not address how many workers at the NOPSI Hotel, which hosted the convention, have tested positive. The hotel’s manager didn’t immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
Event organizers said they’d been in contact with city and state health officials before the convention to detail their plans. The city and state didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday on contact tracing efforts.
The convention is hardly the first instance of an outbreak linked to a gathering in Louisiana. Although the huge number of cases in Louisiana has complicated tracing outbreaks, the Louisiana Department of Health says it has tied 508 cases to bars, 238 cases to casinos, 251 cases to restaurants, 66 cases to “social events” and 57 cases to weddings.
SOURCE: NOLA.com – By CARLIE KOLLATH WELLS; Writers Katy Reckdahl and Matt Sledge contributed to this story.