News for Friday March 20th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Yesterday afternoon the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported the first case of COVID-19 in Rapides Parish and two cases in St. Landry Parish.
One of the newest reported cases is Saints head coach Sean Payton, who says he wasn’t feeling well so he went and got tested. The result came back positive despite the fact that he was not running a fever. Secretary for the State Department of Transportation and Development, Shawn Wilson, has also tested positive for the virus. Wilson says he has been in self-quarantine since Sunday, March 15. He began feeling bad and tested negatively for the flu on Sunday; he learned Wednesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Louisiana Congressmen Steve Scalise announces he is in self-quarantine after extensive contact with one of the first two members of congress to be diagnosed with COVID-19. The Republican representative issued a statement that he has chosen to go into to isolation based on the guidance of the attending physician of the US Congress, but is not currently showing any symptoms of the virus.
The OMV is now closing all offices effective today as a result COVID-19. On line services at the OMV will remain up and running.
A staggering number of Louisianans have filed unemployment claims as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the world economy. By noon Thursday, 30,000 people had applied for unemployment insurance this week, versus 1,700 for all of last week. Laid-off workers can apply online at laworks.net or by calling 1-866-783-5567.
All this COVID-19 concern has Louisianans flocking to gun stores, but Gun shops are finding it hard to keep their shelves stocked. According to ammo.com, Louisiana’s increase in ammo sales is only being outpaced by Delaware and Oklahoma.
Governor Edwards warns healthcare capacity in the New Orleans area could be surpassed within the next seven to ten days under a worst case COVID-19 spread scenario. Edwards says it is early but the region’s trajectory of case growth is basically the same as Italy’s was in the same period of the outbreak. Italy has surpassed China to lead the world in COVID-19 related deaths with over 3,400. Texas is reporting 278 total positive tests so far, while Arkansas has 62, and Mississippi has 50. Louisiana has 392.
Three state parks are being used to house people who are awaiting their coronavirus test results. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser says the test subjects that are being brought are those from nursing homes, the homeless, and people that just don’t have anywhere else to go. Nungesser says the use of individual cabins is a better idea than using hotel rooms for the same purpose.
The price of oil is hovering in the mid 20 dollars a barrel, prices not seen since the early 2000s. The price collapse is hammering the industry, and Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Gifford Briggs warns that even if the COVID crisis breaks in the next few weeks, the American oil industry is still threatened by Russia and OPEC, who are deliberately overproducing to deflate prices.
Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil their emergency stimulus plan to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It’s expected to cost around $1 trillion. Under the measure Americans who made $75,000 or lower last year would be eligible for $1,200 payments and those payments would increase by $500 for each child the person has.
The Louisiana Department of Health is offering free counseling for anyone experiencing stress or anxiety from the COVID-19 outbreak. Medical Director for the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health Dr. James Hussey says the line is open 24 hours a day with trained counselors. You can call the hotline at 1-866-310-7977
The crawfish industry is suffering major losses as the state goes into partial shutdown during the heart of crawfish season. Vermillion Parish farmer Christian Richard says Lent is always their best time of the year, but not this year with the closing of all of the state’s restaurants. Richard says if the governor wants to help out farmers, he’d allow food stamp recipients to use their benefits to buy crawfish.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development advises motorists of a speed limit change on Hwy 165 from Kingsville to the north end of Ball. Speed studies were conducted that produced results favoring the increase of the speed limit from 45 mph to 55 mph along this corridor. Signage is scheduled to be installed next week.