Mardi Gras muted in New Orleans by coronavirus

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans’ annual pre-Lenten Mardi Gras celebration is muted this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell has ordered bars closed during the Mardi Gras weekend that started Friday and runs through Tuesday. The lavish parades are canceled and there are limits on gatherings.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the annual pre-Lenten bash celebrated along much of the Gulf Coast — with the biggest celebration in heavily Catholic New Orleans. Last year’s revelry is considered to have contributed to an early surge that made Louisiana a coronavirus hot spot.

Some locals are making the best of it, decking their houses like parade floats. A giant carton of popcorn, huge lollipops and a Paul Bunyan-sized ice cream cone are among the decorations on one two-story house aptly titled “Snacking in Place.” Motorists can drive by an array of idled floats at New Orleans’ City Park.

Louisiana has registered 9,276 confirmed coronavirus deaths, 16th highest in the U.S.