On New Orleans's Vulnerability to Epidemic
A few days later, a friend stood on my back steps, ready to harvest lemons from my prolific tree. “Don’t hug me — I have the weirdest cough,” he said as he backed away from my open arms. “My lungs hurt. Honestly, it’s kind of scaring me.”
During Carnival, a festival that lasts from Jan. 6 to Mardi Gras, New Orleans welcomes the world to join us in nonstop, over-the-top celebration. It is, normally, a time of joy and togetherness, excess and hospitality. This year, though, people talked of a Mardi Gras curse: As the wreckage of the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel loomed over Canal Street, two people died after slipping under the wheels of tandem floats. Meanwhile, a virus circulated among us, unseen.