Coronavirus drive-thru testing at Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans. / Photo by William A. Morgan via Shutterstock

Every year, New Orleans plans for disaster.

Its residents are all too familiar with hurricanes, floods and a myriad of random infrastructure issues that plague old cities — not to mention a costly cybersecurity attack that happened last year.

“2019 … what a buzzkill that year was,” said Ramsey Green. He’s the deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure and operations for New Orleans. 2020 had to be better, he thought. (Didn’t we all?)

VOSD host Scott Lewis compared notes with Green to weigh their respective coasts’ — West and Gulf — responses to the pandemic. The city of New Orleans’s population is under 400,000, compared with San Diego’s 1.4 million.

But despite their differences, cities across the U.S. face many of the same questions right now. Both New Orleans and San Diego in recent weeks had to rethink their biggest events (think Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and Comic-Con), how to handle parks and open spaces, ways education impacts economy — and the crucial role schools have in feeding families.

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Nate John

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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