Louisiana Judge: Vaccination Can Count as Community Service

Kevin McGill, Associated Press

July 30, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana judge is allowing some of those being sentenced to probation in his court to get a coronavirus vaccination to reduce their community service requirement.

Judge Fred Crifasi in Baton Rouge says vaccination is not mandated but offered as an option.

"Getting vaccinated is a service to the community," Crifasi said Thursday in an emailed statement to The Associated Press. "We are currently in a serious predicament in Louisiana. So, if a probation candidate is inclined to get vaccinated, I will grant credit for that effort towards any requirement of community service. The amount of hours varies and depends on the person's circumstances. It is not a mandate. If a person is not inclined, they do not have to do it."

Crifasi's probation option is being offered as coronavirus infections across the state are skyrocketing. The state health department reported 4,413 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and the daily hospitalization number was 1,620, nearly 100 more than a day earlier. It had been below 300 for much of May and all of June.

Louisiana has been among the states with the lowest overall vaccination rate. New Orleans vaccination rates are higher, but that has not stopped three well known music clubs from providing another incentive for getting the shots.

Tipitina's, the Maple Leaf Bar and d.b.a. announced Wednesday that beginning Friday, anyone wanting to attend performances will need proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

"The music industry in New Orleans is uniting once again in an effort to curb the rise in Covid-19 cases seen throughout the city," the clubs said in a joint news release. "We remain committed to providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere and livelihood for all performers, employees, and supporters of live entertainment."

Guests will have to show their proof of vaccination along with an identification. Negative tests must be within the 72 hours before the performance.

Music venues were especially hard hit during the pandemic when live indoor performances were banned as a way to prevent the spread of the virus. Many venues and performers pivoted to performances that were shown on the internet and took donations as a way to recoup some lost income. It wasn't until March that indoor music was allowed to resume and even then it was under limited conditions although those have since been lifted.

Follow AP's coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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