Coronavirus: Rats swarming through New Orleans’ now-empty streets

NEW ORLEANS — There are very few people on the streets of New Orleans because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that does not mean the French Quarter is empty. Rats are swarming the streets

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A video shot by Charles Marsala last week on Bourbon Street showed more than a dozen rats practicing a lack of social distancing as they congregated in the road, reported. Rats are not rare in the French Quarter, but normally they stay hidden because they can forage behind restaurants.

With businesses closed, the rats have had to improvise, and they have taken their searches to the streets, where garbage cans line the road, ready for plundering.

“What we have seen is these (social distancing) practices are driving our rodents crazy," Mayor LaToya Cantrell told reporters Sunday.

“I turn the corner, there’s about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street,” Charles Marsala, of New Orleans Insider Tours and AWE News, told CBS News.

Claudia Riegel, executive director of the New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board, said city crews were putting bait in the gutters and placing rat traps throughout the French Quarter, CBS News reported. Riegel said there was genuine concern about the rats possibly infecting New Orleans’ homeless population.

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“There are pathogens in these rodents. Fortunately, we don’t see many of the health outcomes," Riegel said at a news conference. “We don’t have very many disease cases that are actually related to rodents. But the potential is there.”

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Riegel said the city usually places baits in the sewers quarterly and before major events, so the city’s goal to control the rodent population is not unusual, reported.

However, she asked residents to keep garbage in cans and not place bags on the street, WWL reported.

"It’s a difficult time to be a rat, really” Riegel told reporters.

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