By Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2021

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell couldn’t join mayors and governors meeting with President Joe Biden on Friday because a screening test - which turned out to be inaccurate - was positive for the novel coronavirus, her office said.

A genetic test at a clinic in Washington showed that she has not been infected by the virus which causes COVID-19, a news release said.

Cantrell was among officials Biden had invited to discuss the importance of state and local funds in the next stimulus and relief packages being considered by Congress.

“This morning at the White House, prior to meeting with President Biden, Mayor Cantrell took a screening COVID test and received a positive result. She then visited a local testing clinic in the DC area, where she took a second test – a confirmatory PCR test. The PCR test results were negative,” Cantrell’s press secretary LaTonya Norton said in an emailed news release.

“At no time did the Mayor display any symptoms, and she remains asymptomatic and in good spirits,” the statement said. “She will return home as scheduled this evening.”

Norton said Cantrell received her first dose of the vaccine Wednesday.

“The vaccine does not cause a positive test, as it does not contain any actual virus,” Norton stressed. “It takes time to build full immunity, and individuals are only considered to be fully immunized and 95% protected at 2 weeks after the second dose. That is the reason that everyone needs to continue to wear masks, socially distance, and avoid large gatherings.”

Norton said the mayor was disappointed about missing the meeting.

“She remains confident that the new administration will be a strong partner for New Orleans,” Norton said. “She looks forward to receiving her second dose of vaccine in a few weeks.”

Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan includes $350 billion in coronavirus relief for state and local governments.


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