Gulf of Mexico
A worker pushed s trash can on a largely empty Bourbon Street, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

LA - Oil, Tourism, Seafood — All Hit in Louisiana COVID-19 Fight

Every Labor Day weekend, St. Mary Parish celebrates two industries at a tourist event with a seemingly improbable title: the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

With a shrimp in a hard hat clinging to an oil derrick as its logo, the festival may the best example of how diverse economic interests mesh in south Louisiana — and how attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19 have visited a kind of triple economic whammy on the state.

A worldwide oil glut was pushing down prices even before the pandemic fight lowered energy demand, contributing to layoffs. Festival-driven tourism has dried up, meaning more lost jobs. And one major tourist draw — cuisine built around fin fish, shrimp, oyster and crabs — also is suffering.

"May is normally our busiest month, and it's terrible," said Harlon Pearce, owner of a seafood processing business in suburban New Orleans, where restaurants are limited to take-out service and major spring and summer festivals have been canceled. "You have Jazz Fest, you have French Quarter Fest, Mother's Day. It's a tough time. Us not having any of our major events this year for tourism is going to be a killer."

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