News for Wednesday April 15th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Governor Edwards struck a somber tone yesterday as the state reported crossing the 1,000 COVID-19 death mark, but noted the curve of new infections has flattened. A single day record 129 COVID deaths were logged yesterday, and while Edwards says much of the spike was the result of a reporting backlog, it is not any easier to process. The total number of cases in the state sits at 21,518
Covington Republican Representative Mark Wright is calling on Governor Edwards not to further extend the stay at home order that is set to end April 30th. Wright says it’s an economic imperative that Louisiana being to reopen and says the state needs to look at easing restrictions like our neighbors in Texas and Oklahoma and starting May 1st reopen as much as possible. Federal models call for the continuing of stay at home orders nationwide through May to avoid another major reoccurrence of COVID-19.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell recommends no more festivals for the remainder of 2020 due to the coronavirus. If that becomes a reality, it would mean the cancellation or postponement of events such as Jazzfest, Essence Fest, French Quarter Fest, and Voodoo Experience. Cantrell expressed concern over not only the local efforts to flatten the curve, but how other states where visitors live are preventing further spread of the virus.
The National Weather Service has confirmed at least seven tornadoes ravaged north Louisiana on Easter Sunday. N-W-S Meteorologist Brad Bryant says the most powerful twister started in West Monroe and traveled for about eight miles. Unlike neighboring Mississippi, Louisiana had no fatalities from the storm activity. Bryant says it is surprising that there was no loss of life in the state.
The Louisiana Department of Health announced yesterday the passing of state Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard earlier this week. Ratard devoted 43 years of his life to public health and spent over 26 of those years with the Office of Public Health. No word was released as to cause of his death.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is suing Louisiana for the state’s attempts to close abortion clinics as part of a shutdown of all services deemed non-essential. President Nancy Northup says attempting to force clinic closures violates due process and equal protection. She says abortion services are time-sensitive and essential. Ohio, Oklahoma, and Alabama have had similar suits filed against them.
Large numbers of jobless workers complained on social media Tuesday that they received only one of the two $600 extra payments the federal government owed them in their Louisiana Unemployment checks. Robert Wooley, assistant secretary for unemployment benefits , says the agency is aware of the problem and will ensure that everyone receives what they are due. The agency sent $89 million to jobless workers Monday in state and federal benefits and another $69 million Tuesday.
The Department of Corrections has created a review panel that will determine if certain inmates nearing the end of their sentence should be released in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus within jails. 1,200 inmates are eligible for the program. Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc says the first group of inmates up for consideration have a pre-existing medical condition and meet certain criteria.
There’s activity underway again at the PMAC on LSU’s campus but it’s not the norm. Ashley Arceneaux, Chief of Staff for the LSU President says the university community is working together to support medical providers and the facility has become a production center for PPE, like reusable gowns from billboard vinyl with locally donated materials.
Arceneaux says the vinyl is donated by Lamar Advertising and Circle Graphics.
LSU Health New Orleans has enrolled its first patient in a clinical trial that will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine alone or with Azithromycin as a treatment for COVID-19. The study may enroll up to 600 at University Medical Center, if they have enough patients eligible.