Louisiana coronavirus vaccine rollout could stand to improve, Power Poll says

February 8, 2021 6:00am
Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent

Also: Here's how we'll spend a paradeless Mardi Gras

Despite uneven demand and fitful supply, the coronavirus vaccine rollout in Louisiana is garnering decent marks from influential people surveyed by The Times-Picayune Power Poll. Almost half the respondents gave the effort a B grade, and one third gave it a C.

“The problem with the vaccine rollout in Louisiana (and other states) is public confusion,” said Ron Faucheux, president of the Clarus Research Group. "People are having great trouble trying to understand the process and where to go."

“The lack of supply in the local area caused a lot of frustration for persons 70 and older,” lawyer William Aaron said. “Many who were scheduled to be vaccinated had their appointments cancelled. Others couldn’t even get an appointment.”

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Who’s chiefly responsible? More than a half say the federal government, more than a third say the state government. Only 9% say health care providers such as hospitals and pharmacies.

“The vaccine rollout has suffered from lack of a national plan and response to the pandemic. It seems that the federal government focused on the vaccine development process to the detriment of implementation,” said Sondra Brown, president of Market Dynamics Research Group. “I am hopeful that we will see greater coordination, transparency, and focus on process and logistics in the coming weeks. As all business people know, a stellar product without an equal emphasis on the process and people needed to distribute/market/sell said product, is a recipe for failure.”

But as some big picture people like to say, this is a marathon – not a sprint.

 “I think it’s too early to determine the rollout of the vaccine,” said LaVerne Toombs, executive director of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce. “Like anything else, we have to work out the problems and reevaluate for the process to be a success. I will give it another two weeks to determine who is at fault.

Conducted online Monday through Thursday, The Times-Picayune Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, non-profits and community affairs, it does afford a fascinating and non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 365 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 83 voted for participation rate of 23%.

And now for something completely different: With parades canceled, how do we plan to spend Mardi Gras?

The obvious takeaway on this question is that your Power Poll correspondent needed to offer more choices. Almost half of the respondents picked “other” over four options that were presented.

The spontaneous “house float” movement has captivated the region, to be sure. But only 10% of respondents said they plan to spend Fat Tuesday touring them.

“Not only is the Krewe of House Floats uniting New Orleanians just as Mardi Gras does, but it is inspiring entrepreneurship to meet the needs and opportunities of Carnival 2021,” said Betsie Gambel, whose Gambel Communications, along with The New Orleans 100, is a Power Poll sponsor. “From Orpheus’ sale of its signature flowers to Plush Appeal- The Mardi Gras Spot’s responding with more decorative inventory for DIY artists to Camellia Beans’ planned activation of a house float with its nonprofit partner NOCCI, the spirit of Mardi Gras reigns.”

Almost as many said they plan to costume and stroll the French Quarter, Tremé, Faubourg Marigny, Bywater, neighborhoods that in years past have been Mardi Gras spectacles. But let’s be careful around crowds, folks, lest we catch the virus or receive a social distancing citation from the New Orleans Police Department.

“Something tells me there will be a lot of people in costume filling streets, and putting city leaders and the NOPD in a very delicate position,” said Keith Esparros, WWL television news director.

So rest up, put your red beans and rice on to simmer for supper, get some Popeyes fried chicken for lunch and enjoy the day.

“Happy Mardi Gras!” said Tommy Cvitanovich, co-owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. “Now pass the king cake.”

 

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