News for Thursday April 16th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The number of people who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in Louisiana rose by another 90 on Wednesday to 1,103. 16 of the victims lived at a Veterans Home in St. John the Baptist Parish. Deputy Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs Julie Baxter-Payer says 26 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. Baxter-Payer says the facility saw its first resident show symptoms less than a month ago on March 19th. Again confirming what health experts are saying worldwide, nursing homes are the perfect breeding grounds for the virus.
The governor’s current stay at home order lasts through April 30th and Governor John Bel Edwards has indicated he could extend it. He says when the green light is given to open up more businesses, social distancing will continue, along with other measures. Edwards says the new normal will also have reduced occupancy limits…
At his briefing yesterday afternoon Governor Edwards reaffirmed that K-12 school campuses across the state will remain closed for the remainder of the current school year for students. However, students will continue education via remote learning. Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux (Si-no) says the local districts will be tasked with the decision on criteria that will determine a student’s advancement in grade level, also how to grade students will also be left in the hands of the districts.
Eleven U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement staffers at the agency’s facility at the Alexandria airport have tested positive for coronavirus, the largest outbreak among staff at any ICE facility nationwide. The ICE Alexandria Staging Facility is normally used as a holding pen for immigration detainees as they await deportation flights out of the Alexandria International Airport.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell extends the stay in shelter order for the city until May 16th. Cantrell previously mentioned there would be no large events in New Orleans for the rest of 2020, but the Saints organization says it’s planning operations under the assumption there will be games.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser says the state is working on a set of guidelines to potentially get restaurants and other service industry businesses open in May. But Nungesser warns that even if we do reopen next month an estimated 5.9 million tourism-related jobs will have already been lost nationwide.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has asked Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin to revise his plan for the July 11th presidential primary over concerns that his proposal that expands mail-in voting gives that option to too many people. Shreveport Senator Barry Milligan is concerned about voter fraud. The emergency election rule would allow anyone to mail in an absentee ballot if they are concerned they could be exposed to the coronavirus. On a five to one party-line vote, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has asked Ardoin to bring another emergency election proposal to them that would lower the number of people would be eligible to vote with a mail ballot. Note: Their exact words.
The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with no qualifying children will receive federal stimulus payments automatically directly from the Treasury Department. The treasury anticipates the payments to be made no later than early May. SSI recipients with qualifying children under the age of 17 should visit the IRS website. Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries (who don’t normally file taxes) also qualify for the automatic stimulus payments, expected to arrive around the end of April.
The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that more than two dozen offshore workers on seven out of 680 platforms have now tested positive for the coronavirus. NOLA.com is reporting that Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has not established any protocols for what companies should or must do when an offshore worker displays symptoms of coronavirus. The agency says that it is working to develop mitigations to reduce the risk of exposure for its own employees traveling offshore, four of whom have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance is urging the class of 2020 to complete applications for federal student aid as part of the newly launched FAFSA Now campaign. LOSFA spokesperson Tyana Daquano says the FAFSA form can feel like a daunting task, but they are now offering virtual assistance with completing the paperwork. the FAFSA application will not only help unlock federal aid but state and institutional aid for students as well. The assistance tool can be found at MyLOSFA.LA.gov.
The Advocate reports the future of a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal near Lake Charles is unclear after a deal for its parent company to be acquired was canceled. According to the report, LNG Ltd., which is an Australian company that proposed building Magnolia LNG, was slated to be taken private by a Singapore-based company in a $75 million deal, but investors withdrew their bid after an initial bridge loan fell through. According to company officials, by retracting their bid, LNG Ltd. is now able to negotiate with other interested parties on strategic alternatives, which is already ongoing.