News for Friday April 17th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state’s virus death toll increases by 53 yesterday, bringing the total to 1,156. Total cases of the virus increased by 581 to a total of 22,532. The only good news, hospitalizations decreased by 29.
Governor Edwards announced yesterday who will serve on his Resilient Louisiana Commission. Edwards says this panel will make recommendations on how the state can grow its economy again. The governor is looking at loosening some of the rules of his stay at home order and this panel will receive input from business leaders on how best to do that. The Commission Co-Chairs are Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, and healthcare executive Terrie Sterling.
An elderly member of Life Tabernacle Church has died of COVID-19 and Pastor Tony Spell is disputing the coroner’s findings saying the man died of other medical conditions. And one of Spell’s attorneys, Jeff Wittenbrink of Baton Rouge, is currently hospitalized with the coronavirus after reportedly attending two events at the church earlier this month. Spell continues to hold large services.
The Paycheck Protection Program which provides loans to small businesses to keep their workers employed has run out of money. Congressman Steve Scalise of Metairie says the President is asking Congress to appropriate 251-billion dollars so the program can process loan applications again.
LSU Health Shreveport is bringing testing online that will allow them to check people’s blood for antibodies that may indicate they are immune to coronavirus. But Immunology Professor Matthew Woolard says it’s not just enough to know if you have anti-coronavirus antibodies, we need to know how effective they are, and how many are needed to be effective. If a person is found to have effective antibodies they could return to a normal life without fear of getting themselves or others sick. Woolard says their work will also be to document over time the rate at which a person loses antibodies by retesting a person’s blood every so often.
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says 13 of the top 20 auto insurers doing business in Louisiana are providing premium reductions and rebates to policyholders since people are driving less. He says the rebate programs are resulting in 187-million dollars back into the hands of consumers.
Historically, school systems have had assessments to determine promotion for students. In the absence of those assessments this year, Assistant state superintendent Ken Bradford says the Department of Education is advising districts use other tools on the local level to make the determination as to a student’s advancement.
If a student is borderline on their ability to advance, Bradford says there needs to be a sit-down discussion between the parents, teachers, and counselors to hammer out how they can be caught up in time for next school year. Bradford says the districts can have the freedom to allow teachers to break away from the traditional time restrictions that are normally in place during a regular school year, allowing them to help students during the summer.
The cancellations of Jazz and Essence Fest will pummel New Orleans’ expected 2020 tourism revenue, with more festivals likely to announce similar decisions in the near future. CEO of New Orleans and Company, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Mark Romig says the loss of those iconic events is a blow, but they’ll be back.
475,000 visitors attended Jazz Fest last year for an estimated 400 million dollar total economic impact.
Baton Rouge Representative Ted James has mostly recovered from COVID-19 but says his recovery was grueling and the disease should not be taken lightly. The 37-year-old Democrat says he became symptomatic March 22nd when he woke up in a pool of sweat, and a week later he was suffering in a hospital with pneumonia. James says his history of asthma and sinus issues may have contributed to his severe case despite his young age and good health.