News for Thursday March 19th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state’s number of coronavirus cases is up to 281. St. James Parish officials announced late Wednesday that a patient there has died from the virus, bringing the total to 8 deaths statewide. Governor Edwards expects the number of coronavirus cases to increase dramatically over the next 24 to 36 as the state plans to receive about a thousand tests results. Edwards continues to implore Louisiana residents to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing. First two cases of coronavirus in Lafayette were confirmed yesterday.
On Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Landy joined Governor Edwards during coronavirus his update. Some say the Governor is overstepping his authority by closing some businesses and limiting public gatherings. In a bipartisan stance, Landy backs the Governor. Republican Congressman Clay Higgins has been extremely vocal about the Democratic Governor’s authority during the pandemic. Landy says the Governor has the authority under the present situation. Landry also warned the public, especially seniors, that scam artists are taking advantage of the situation and preying on unsuspecting people.
Blood centers across the state are reporting that COVID-19 is causing a critical shortage of blood donations. Lifeshare Blood Center says March is usually a busy month for blood centers, but not this year. The arrival of the virus and fear has led to a loss of 4,000 scheduled blood donations during March, the biggest hit coming from the suspension of schools. 1 in 5 donors are teens. Donations are being accepted at Alexandria’s Lifeshare center on North Blvd.
Governor Edwards says they’re expecting serious economic damage as a result of the need for social distancing but they are looking to help residents. The Governor has requested Small Business Administration disaster loan assistance for all 64 parishes and the suspension of eviction and foreclosure notices for now to prevent homelessness.
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy says the federal government is working to get more testing kits out. A drive-thru testing site in Baton Rouge had to suspend operations Tuesday after it ran out of testing kits. Cassidy says finding out who has the virus is critical to stopping the spread. Congress is working on a massive economic stimulus package that will result in Americans receiving a direct payment from the federal government. Senator Cassidy says he supports Governor Edwards’ dramatic measures to close down schools, restaurants and bars. He’s been in contact with hospitals to make sure they are ready as the virus is showing no signs of slowing down…
New Orleans ranks second only to Seattle among US cities in per capita coronavirus cases. Health experts say Mardi Gras was the ideal combination of factors to dovetail the number of infections. Chair of the Global Community Health Department of Tulane’s School of Public Health Dr. Richard Oberhelman says the first factor is the international attraction of tourists. When Carnival season wrapped three weeks ago, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, but asymptomatic carriers may have relayed the spread to others in the time since.
The state has established a staging area for coronavirus patients who don’t need ICU care at Bayou Segnette state park. Edwards says they are considering doing that at other state parks as well. The Governor has deployed 400 National Guard soldiers in response to the crisis, many of whom are manning posts at Bayou Segnette. Lake Bistineau and Chicot State Park are also being considered for use in COVID quarantines, but Edwards says finding room isn’t the biggest problem, it’s finding enough healthcare workers.
A capital region church is continuing to hold services as normal, defying the ban of gatherings of 50 or more people. The Life Tabernacle Church in Central had an around their average attendance of over 1,100 on Sunday. Rev. Tony Spell says police have shown up after services at the church, telling them next time it’ll be the National Guard that will disband the gathering.
The Department of Children and Family Services has seen a doubling in the usual number of food stamp applications. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters says part of the surge in applications is likely because people think the program is being expanded as it does in natural disasters, but that’s not the case. SNAP sends benefits to roughly 770,000 Louisiana residents currently.
Beginning Thursday, March 19th through Monday, March 30th, the Louisiana State Capitol will be closed. Senate President Page Cortez and Speaker of the House of Representatives Clay Schexnayder, in coordination with other agencies housed in the building, have agreed that closure is necessary to ensure the health and welfare of the public and staff.
LSU football Coach Ed Orgeron calls on citizens to follow the game plan in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Coach O participated in a unified command meeting with Governor Edwards. Orgeron says he knows this will be a challenge, but adds this is not the time to be selfish and urges young people to stay home. Orgeron says Louisiana residents are tough and resilient adding there is no better way to prove that than by beating down the spread of coronavirus.
It appears veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins will return to the Saints. NFL insider Ian Rapoport reports New Orleans is close to signing Jenkins, who has spent the last six years in Philadelphia. Jenkins was a standout rookie for the Black and Gold when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009. He also helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl 2018. The former Ohio State Buckeye had 81 tackles last season, 2.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Saints cornerback Eli Apple has reportedly signed with the Oakland Raiders. Apple has spent the year and a half in New Orleans and had mix results, 28 tackles, two interceptions and 13 pass breakups. New Orleans is set to play the Raiders this season.
Nick Underhill with New-Orleans-football-dot-com says the Saints have restructured the contracts of wide receiver Michael Thomas and tackle Terron Armstead to open up more cap space.
Instead of getting ready for Mississippi State this weekend, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri is sitting at home wondering about the future of his program. The NCAA is expected to give an extra year of eligiblity to the two seniors on his team since their season was cut short after 17 games. Mainieri says that would be a good move by the NCAA, but that will bring more challenges when it comes to managing the roster…