News for Tuesday March 24th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state is up to 1,172 cases of the coronavirus and at least 34 deaths have been reported.
Here in Rapides Parish, health officials have confirmed the first death from the virus. According LDH, the fatality was a 76-year-old. Over the weekend, the state’s youngest victim, a 38 year old man from Catahoula Parish passes away from complications from the virus.
Louisiana on Monday released figures on the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in the state as of Sunday, with 240 of the 860 positive cases confirmed at the time requiring hospitalization.
The state discovers another cluster of coronavirus cases at a Donaldsville retirement home. Five positive COVID-19 cases were discovered there.
New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond announced on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. In his statement Aymond says that throughout the pandemic he had been feeling fine until he recently began to experience mild symptoms including fever. After taking the test, Aymond says his results came back positive for the coronavirus. Archbishop Aymond says he has self-quarantined and has notified any of those he has been in close contact with.
Medical professionals and the Governor took on some of the public’s biggest questions Monday night about what we now know about COVID-19 just over two weeks since the state’s first reported case. The President has touted the potential of existing medications for COVID treatment, but Our Lady of the Lake Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Catherine O’Neal says they need further testing. Louisiana Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary Alex Billioux says the state’s rate of case increase is remarkably high, and even with the containment measures that may not change in the next few days.
According to a UL-Lafayette study, Louisiana has one of the fastest growth rates of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world. Dr. Gary Wagner, a Business Economist at UL-Lafayette, has a few theories on why Louisiana is seeing a large rate of cases compared to other areas, In Two words Mardi Gras. Another reason is the fact that the state was late in starting testing. Wagner says, once you see the number of cases exceed a couple of thousand, the numbers increase so quickly, it is impossible to get ahead of them.
The National Federation of Independent Business says 76% of small businesses are now being negatively impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, up from 23% ten days ago. The state has ordered that many businesses shut down in an effort to slow the spread, NFIB State Director, Dawn Starns she says commends Governor Edwards handling of the pandemic because he’s done everything possible and in the process kept businesses in the loop.
State Police and other law enforcement agencies have been inundated with phone calls pertaining to rumors of road closures related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Lt. Nick Manale says while there may be road closures, it’s not because of some of the far-fetched rumors found on social media. Manale insists that the public get information from trusted, reliable sources.
The state Department of Education opens the Child Care Assistance Program to support essential critical personnel during the response to COVID-19. Assistant State Superintendent of Education Jessica Baghian says the help is available to individuals in various critical roles. Baghian says the local resource and referral center has access to a list of which licensed childcare facilities are open. Baghian says the program pays a subsidy and any difference between that amount and the price the care facility charges is the responsibility of the parent. The program is available for kids 12 and younger.
Beginning today until April 13, the Lottery will close its Baton Rouge headquarters, regional prize payment offices and distribution center to both employees and the public in order to comply with the Governor's stay-at-home mandate. During this time of emergency, the Lottery asks that players hold on to any winning ticket of $600 or more until prize payment offices resume operations with the reassurance that all prize claim deadlines will be extended for an additional 90 days. For all other prize levels, players can visit www.louisianalottery.com/claim for information on ways they may claim in the interim.
Furloughs begin this week for employees of The Advocate and Times Picayune newspapers. Editor Peter Kovacs announced yesterday that the newspapers have seen an increase in online subscriptions, but have taken a deep hit in advertising revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The furloughs will affect about a 10% of the papers 400 employees.
LSU says they will only have a limited number of essential personnel on campus as part of the governor’s stay-at-home order. Interim President Dr. Thomas Galligan says campus is set to remain a ghost town through the end of the spring semester. Many are worried some of LSU’s most essential staff may not be taking the field come August if COVID-19 is still an issue by them. Galligan says if football must be canceled, they will, but hopefully, it won’t need to be…
While much of the state’s workforce has been told to go home, Louisiana’s chemical plant employees are still on the job producing goods needed to fight the virus.
Life at the plants looks a lot different these days. Bowser says access to facilities is being limited, worker’s temperatures are being checked on entry, shift sizes are now smaller.