News for Thursday April 30th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
After decades of service to our community, Rapides Parish says good bye and thank you to Sheriff William Earl Hilton. In total Sheriff Hilton was at the helm for 24 years. Today he passes on that job to the new Sheriff, Mark Wood, who will be sworn in this morning at 10,
Governor Edwards met with President Donald Trump Thursday in the Oval Office and afterwards praised the federal government’s commitment to supply Louisiana with enough test kits so that it can test at least 200,000 individuals a month for the coronavirus. Edwards says that’s a critical piece in their COVID-19 response efforts.
Edwards is hopeful the state can begin a phase one reopening of the economy on May 16th.
Not all Republicans are happy with Governor Edwards and his extension of the stay at home order, some are looking at overriding the state’s emergency declaration. Shreveport Representative Alan Seabaugh believes they can get 53 lawmakers in the House to sign the petition since there are 69 Republicans in the lower chamber. He says Edwards could not veto and the petition can prevent the governor from issuing an even more restrictive order for the next 60 days. The governor’s executive council sent a letter to legislative leadership informing them that rescinding the governor’s order would threaten billions of dollars in federal funding to Louisiana and would change unemployment provisions.
President Donald Trump says the federal government will not be extending its social distancing guidelines when they expire Thursday at the end of the month. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that the coronavirus guidelines will be “fading out” because of work that governors are doing in their states. Vice President Mike Pence said the guidelines issued 45 days ago have been incorporated into guidance provided to the states on how they can begin the process of gradually reopening their economies.
Early estimates show the state budget for the next fiscal year will likely have a hefty shortfall due to the COVID shutdown and the collapse of oil prices. House Appropriations Chairman Jerome Zeringue says that equates to about a 500 million dollar budget shortfall, but at least this year’s budget shouldn’t be impacted. The session is set to resume Monday and Zeringue anticipates budget discussions will start the week after, meaning they’ll have a brief three weeks to craft the spending plan before the session ends on June 1st.
Governor Edwards is expected to provide additional guidance today ahead of tomorrow’s order allowing customers to eat take out outside of restaurants. Louisiana Restaurant Association President Stan Harris says despite the lack of details, Harris says he is glad the state is allowing it. He says the restaurant industry is taking heavy losses and any chance to offer more services is appreciated. The down side, Harris says only about four percent of state restaurants have patio dining. The Governor has suggested he could implement Phase One, allowing restaurants to open at 25% capacity, by mid-May.
Raising Cane’s CEO Todd Graves predicts many of the restaurant industry changes made due to the coronavirus outbreak will stick around long after the virus fades. Graves says the industry is notorious for having workers come in even when sick, and that’s unlikely to be the case going forward. He also pointed to additions like sneeze guards in drive-throughs. Graves adds sanitation and food safety practices implemented during this time are also likely to be maintained due to public demand.
The road to recovery for Baton Rouge Police Cpl. Derrick Maglone, who was wounded in a shootout that left another officer dead, continues. Former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson is Maglone’s uncle and says Maglone is able speak in short sentences. While they are still respecting social distancing guidelines in visiting, Edmonson believes the interaction Maglone has had with other officers at the hospital has been helpful. Maglone was shot during a standoff on Sunday while looking for a suspect in a homicide earlier that day. A 21-year veteran of the BRPD, Lt. Glenn Hutto Jr. was killed in the shoot-out.
Shopping malls have already had a tough time competing with e-commerce, but following the pandemic, the challenge of retaining a customer base will likely grow even more. LSU marketing Professor Dan Rice says enclosed malls will be the most at-risk for permanent closure. Rice says the malls will have to figure out ways to make their brick and mortar establishments a destination that consumers feel compelled to visit.
Personal finance website WalletHub says their survey shows 43 percent of Americans are comfort buying, spending more on non-essentials now than they were before the pandemic. Around 60 percent of people aged 30-44 report comfort buying compared to just 32 percent over the age of 59. Analyst Jill Gonzales says in terms of the non-essential purchases, most of it is related to entertainment.