New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell says she would have called off Carnival if federal authorities told her to do so as coronavirus was spreading elsewhere in the world.
"We rely on the facts to make decisions," told CNN. "Given no red flags, we moved forward."
The mayor says as the city prepared for Mardi Gras, local officials worked "every step of the way" with federal agencies that did not raise any concern. She explained that in meetings with Homeland Security and the CDC, no one ever suggested that Mardi Gras should not move forward.
Cantrell insisted that she would have followed directives, had there been any.
"In hindsight, if we were given clear direction, we would not have had Mardi Gras, and I would have been the leader to cancel."
The first cases in Louisiana began showing up just weeks after hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the streets to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
The mayor said that it is the federal government that must provide key information.
“When it's not taken seriously at the federal level it's very difficult to transcend down to the local level in making these decisions.”
Cantrell insisted that when she was advised to stop social gatherings she didn't hesitate to cancel St. Patrick's day parades and parties."All hell broke loose when I did that, but it was necessary," the mayor said.