New Orleans has been dealt a devastating blow from the new coronavirus and a beloved Mardi Gras club is paying dearly.
Jay H. Banks is a New Orleans City Council member and the chairman of the board of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs.
He said eight Zulu members have died since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and about another 20 have been hospitalised, some on ventilators.
The predominantly African American club is in some ways a reflection of how the disease has affected the black community in Louisiana more generally.
Among the dead who were members of the group is 51-year-old Cornell Charles, a beloved coach and family man, who was riding in an official Zulu car in this year’s parade, a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition that’s central to the city’s African American community.
A month later his wife of nearly three decades, Nicole Charles, was watching him take his last breath, a victim of the coronavirus raging through the city.
She is demanding answers as to why the black community was so hard-hit by the virus.
“I would love to know that,” said Nicole Charles. “And to say that we live in America, which is supposed to be the richest country in the world, you cannot tell me that we’re not supposed to figure this out.”
More than 70 percent of the Louisiana’s coronavirus patients who have died are black, according to state data released this week.
For most people, the coronavirus causes symptoms such as high fever and a dry cough that resolve in several weeks.
But some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can suffer severe symptoms and require respirators to survive.