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WASHINGTON – The city of New Orleans should join the close to 20 cities across the country that have now suspended or are considering suspending water service shutoffs due to nonpayment in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Data obtained from the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans revealed a 17 percent shutoff rate in New Orleans – more than one out of every six homes – affecting 19,486 households, or an estimated 46,572 people in 2016. . The World Health Organization recommends ‘frequent and proper hand hygiene’ as one of the most important prevention measures for COVID-19, a strategy that relies on household access to water.

In response, Food & Water Action’s Public Water for All Campaign Director Mary Grant issued the following statement:

“A moratorium on water shutoffs due to nonpayment during the coronavirus epidemic is common sense, especially in a city like New Orleans where shutoffs are common and rampant. Access to safe and affordable water should be a universal human right at all times, but at the very least our elected officials should ensure everyone has the ability to wash their hands to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease. 

“Until there is a national moratorium on water shutoffs, public officials in New Orleans must take the reins and join the cross country movement to end water shutoffs locally during this pandemic. We know that in 2016, more than one out of every six homes – affecting 19,486 households, or an estimated 46,572 people, in New Orleans experienced water shutoffs. It is imperative every single one of those people have access to water effective immediately.”