NEW ORLEANS — A crush of 12,500 downloads crashed the servers for LA Wallet, a popular app that allows Louisiana driver’s license holders to carry a digital copy of their vaccination card.
That followed Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s announcement that a proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot or a negative test no older than 72 hours will be required to enter many businesses.
Calvin Fabre, the app’s developer, said he and his team did what they could to prepare for the onslaught when work began to leak about the new rules.
“We were a little bit overwhelmed last night,” he said.
The new rules, which will affect places such as restaurants, bars, gyms and the Superdome, go into effect Monday. Enforcement will begin Aug. 23.
In recent weeks, some businesses took it upon themselves to check customer’s vaccination status or require a negative COVID test before allowing people to enter.
While the LA Wallet app is one acceptable form of proof of vaccination status, so are paper cards -- but everyone from City Hall to the FBI is warning about problems with phony versions.
“Please don't try to fake this information,” pleaded Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city’s health director. “The FBI has already made arrests for people who have tried.”
In Memphis, officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Service found a shipment of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards bound for New Orleans.
Among the giveaways: typos including “COVLID-19.”
The FBI says that using a phony vaccination card can carry fines and up to five years in prison.
Avegno said there are problems beyond the legal realm.
“Doing so simply prolongs the pandemic. It makes it harder for all of us to recover,” she said.