News for Tuesday April 21st, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana reports a slight increase in the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time since April 13th, and 32 more Louisianans are also reported to have died from COVID-19. To date 24,523 cases have been reported and 1,328 fatalities. 56 percent of the fatalities are African Americans, who make up just a third of the population.
Louisiana House GOP Leader Blake Miguez says Louisiana needs to reopen its economy on a parish by parish basis, but Governor Edwards disagrees. Miguez wrote a letter to the Governor calling on him to implement Phase One of the federal reopening plan after the stay-at-home order ends April 30th. The Governor says he plans to announce what restrictions the state will keep days before the current stay at home order expires on April 30th.
Governor Edwards gives the go-ahead for some time-sensitive elective medical procedures that have been canceled under the stay at home order to resume next Monday. The relaxed restrictions are a result of lessening pressure on hospitals due to a flattening of the curve, but State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says not every procedure will be deemed necessary. National reports show a growing problem of people canceling vital treatments that are needed for chronic issues. Guidry says this order helps encourage those folks to get back to a doctor.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections announced yesterday that Sandy McCain, the warden of the Raymond Laborde Correctional Center in Cottonport passed away earlier in the day following a lengthy battle after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 66. I was also announced that Dr. Casey McVea, the Medical Director at the Correctional Center, also died this past weekend from COVID-19 complications.
Oil prices have collapsed to the lowest point ever recorded as the economy screeches to a halt and an international price war rages on. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Gifford Briggs many Louisiana wells are planning to shut off 100 percent of production because they can’t find a place to sell…The cost of a barrel ol oil yesterday closed the day in negative territory. Another words, at this point oil is worth less than nothing. Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Gifford Briggs says the only way these prices can bounce back to reasonable levels is if the economy is restarted, and drastic tax cuts on the industry are enacted. Oil started the year at over 60 dollars a barrel.
The US Supreme Court rules all felony trials must be decided by a unanimous jury verdict in a 6-3 ruling of a case brought by Evangelisto Ramos, who was found guilty of killing a woman in New Orleans in 2014 on a 10-2 vote that he appealed on constitutional grounds. The decision will likely result in some high-profile retrials of people on direct review. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino says one of those will likely be for Ronald Glasser who was convicted of murdering NFL running back Joe McKnight in 2016.
A Main Street America survey shows nearly 60-percent of small businesses in the state are in danger of closing permanently due to COVID-19 in the next six months. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is co-chair of the Resilient Louisiana Commission tasked with reopening businesses across the state. Nungesser says the commission is looking at options of phases that would slowly reopen businesses.
Nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing are now being 3-D printed at LSU Health Shreveport. The swabs, which are a crucial part or the testing kit, have been in short supply. Molecular and cellular physiology professor Dr. Steven Alexander hopes the extra swab availability will lead to an expansion of testing eligibility. Alexander says they have obtained the swab design printing files to produce the resin polymer nasal swabs and hope to be producing nearly 1,000 swabs daily.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for the controversial pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana. The warrant accuses pastor Tony Spell of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police in Central say Spell allegedly backed up a church bus into the direction of a person protesting in front of Spell’s church Sunday. Video of the alleged incident shows the bus coming to a stop just short of where the protestor was standing. There is also a second warrant out for the arrest of the person driving a white truck that appears to swerve off the road in a separate attempt to hit a protester standing on the side of the road near the church. Over the weekend, The Rev. Spell asked congregates to donate their stimulus checks to the church.
The Department of Education releases a survey showing all 69 school districts are offering some level of distance education in public schools while campuses are closed. Department spokesperson Sydni Dunn says the survey looked at both traditional and charter schools handling of the pandemic. A big problem, 28% of students do not have access to a school-issued or personal tablet or computer and only 66% have home internet access.