News for Wednesday April 8th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state reported 70 new COVID deaths Tuesday , the new single-day high for fatalities, along with now having over 16,000 confirmed cases, and just under 2,000 COVID hospitalizations. Of those hospitalized a fourth of those patients are on ventilators. Two-thirds of the cases are still being reported in the New Orleans region, but Shreveport/Bossier and Baton Rouge have a growing caseload.
Governor Edwards says despite Tuesday’s record high reported death toll, the general data suggests we are flattening the curve of new infections, and it appears the stay at home order is working to stave off a nightmare scenario where the New Orleans region will run out of ventilators.
It’s been just over two weeks since the state’s stay at home order was implemented and Governor Edwards says it appears the order has resulted in a recent flattening of the curve. At Tuesday’s press conference the Governor hinted at the fact that the order may have been even more effective at slowing the spread than they had hoped for and that’s great news for the state. Monday saw the state’s highest reported death total at 70, but Edwards noted that ventilator use is down, and the number of new hospitalizations is slowing. The Governor says current measures are working, but if people take this news as a sign that they can start slacking on social distancing it’ll all be for naught.
70 percent of the people in Louisiana who have died from COVID-19 were African Americans, a group that only makes up a third of the population. LSU Health New Orleans Professor of Public Health Dr. Jim Diaz says one reason is that COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for this demographic is that they are more likely to be a risk for certain underlying conditions, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and obesity. There’s also the issue of health insurance, or a lack there of, that leys many of their medical conditions go untreated.
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday signed a proclamation related to unemployment and other issues related to the Louisiana Workforce Commission as it seeks to manage the influx in unemployment claims due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many requirements, including weekly qualifications and proof of job searches, have been waived to speed up the process.
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson and Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, M.D. sent a letter to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday urging that the agency take decisive action to address the COVID-19 outbreak at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale. According to the letter, the lawmakers seek answers to specific questions regarding the bureau's plans to mitigate the spread of COVD-19 to inmates, officers and staffers.
Texas is maintaining it’s policy of quarantining visitors from out of state that cross into Texas, and having troopers stop some drivers at the border with Louisiana. Governor Edwards says restricted travel is playing a big part in lowering transmission rates, which is why he isn’t faulting Texas for screening some drivers.
A survey from Public Policy Polling shows 68 percent of Louisianans approve of Governor Edwards’ handling of the coronavirus crisis. When asked if Governor Edwards or President Trump is doing a better job Edwards lead 46-41 percent. UL Lafayette Poli Sci Professor Pearson Cross says that’s because the question led to a generic partisan split.
Allstate says auto insurance policyholders will see a rebate on their April and May premiums due to the lack of driving during the coronavirus pandemic. Real Reform Louisiana, Executive Director Eric Holl says tech companies are showing data that driving is down an average of 55-percent across the state and in some of the more populated areas like New Orleans driving is down as much as 75-percent, Holl says fewer cars means fewer accidents.
With the recent news that a tiger in the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19, concern about transmitting the virus from humans to pets has grown. State public health veterinarian Dr. Gary Balsamo says it’s a rare occurrence, but sometimes animals can get sick from exposure. Balsamo says the virus survives best on smooth surfaces such as stainless steel, so it is a relatively low threat for animals to carry the virus in their fur. But, there are steps to reduce the risk of pets becoming ill from exposure. Avoid face to face contact and wash your hands often.
The ongoing crisis is crippling the economy and putting a growing number of Americans out of a job, depriving them of the ability to pay their rent. Staff attorney at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Hannah Adams says the Governor made it illegal to evict people at least through April, and if your landlord is threating to call the police and have you evicted, just know that’s not within their jurisdiction.
The LA Wallet app, Louisiana’s digital driver’s license, now allows you to renew your driver’s license in the app itself and have an updated digital result in just 24 hours.
App users will not be charged any additional fees that wouldn’t be charged to those using the standard online renewal process. OMV offices are closed as long as the stay at home order is in effect so now is a good time to try the app, especially considering it is currently free.
The public is invited to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Ray P. Authement at a drive-by memorial Friday at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Authement, who died last Sunday, became UL Lafayette president in 1974 and served for 34 years, making him the nation’s longest-serving public university president at the time of his retirement in 2008.