News for Friday May 8th, 2020
Compiled By Dave Graichen
Louisiana reported 41 new COVID-19 deaths and 253 new confirmed positive cases yesterday, continuing this month’s trend in lower death rates and fewer new positive cases.
709 of the state’s 2,135 COVID-19 Deaths, or a little more than a third, come from nursing homes. that according to new data released by the Louisiana Department of Health. The report also shows 179 of the state’s 276 nursing homes have been impacted.
Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to give a more in-depth look into the state’s COVID-19 contact tracing procedures this afternoon. Edwards says the state is bringing on 700 workers to process the data receiving from testing. Edwards says after talking with a COVID-19 patient, a tracer will connect with anyone that may have been in contact with the patient for further questioning. Edwards says as the state reengages, there will be more person to person contact even with mitigation efforts in place, so contact tracing is vital in catching cases early before they can spread further.
KALB TV reports the Alexandria City council members will be discussing the discipline of Alexandria police officers at their council meeting on Tuesday. The station reports Councilmen Malcolm Larvadain wrote a letter addressed to the council asking for an agenda item to be added. Civil Service Board Attorney Brian Cespiva says this matter is normally something the Civil Service Board would handle and that the agenda item comes as a complete surprise to the civil service board. Cespiva also said, at this time he was unaware of any complaints against Chief King or any supervisory personnel at APD.
The Louisiana Legislature gathered in their respective chambers Thursday night for their first substantive meeting since reconvening earlier this week. The House and Senate voted on about three dozen bills and resolutions, though none of the big measures were on the agenda. Neither was the resolution, approved in committee Wednesday night, that would strip Gov. John Bel Edwards of his ability to enforce the various directives that have led to the closures of businesses and limited gathering to 10 people or less.
The Capitol may have been closed for 49 days but Louisiana lawmakers were still paid their 161 dollar daily per diem throughout that period. Advocate Bureau Chief Mark Ballard says despite the compressed schedule legislators will still collect 14,000 dollars aimed at reimbursing expenses for lawmakers while in session. Ballard says many lawmakers argue that they were doing legislative work during that period, even if it wasn’t at the Capitol.
An emergency election plan aimed at addressing voting during the coronavirus pandemic, which Republican lawmakers altered to limit the expansion of mail-in ballots, has drawn a federal lawsuit seeking a more robust expansion of absentee voting. The lawsuit, brought by the NAACP, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and four individual voters, says the reasons voters can access mail-in ballots under the plan fall short of protecting voters of the coronavirus, which has taken an outsized toll on Louisiana. It calls the plan “unduly restrictive” and seeks to repeal the requirements that voters present an excuse to receive an absentee ballot.
Republican state lawmakers Thursday rejected a proposal that would require many Louisiana businesses to provide paid sick leave to their workers. House Bill 832l by New Orleans Rep. Matthew Willard, a Democrat, was killed by the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee in a 10-5 party-line vote. Republicans voted in a bloc against the measure, saying they opposed placing a financial mandate on businesses.
Louisiana Department of Health warns that current COVID regulations mean this Mother’s Day will have to be quite different than usual. Capital Area Regional Medical Director Dawn Marcelle says many moms and grandmas are at high risk of severe COVID cases. Marcelle says if your loved one falls into that category you may want to consider an alternative way to meet. Marcelle says if meeting in person you’ll need to resist the temptation to hug your mom and maintain six feet of separation. She says you also need to wear a mask.
The gaming experience will be different next time players step into a Louisiana casino. Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board Ronnie Jones says temperature checks, mandatory hand sanitizing, and a series of screening questions will be asked before setting foot on the gaming floor. Casino operations ceased on March 16th and were not specifically named in any of the phases of the reopening plans, but Jones is hoping that maybe things will begin to open up by the end of the month. Casino entry will likely be limited to 25% to 50% of normal capacity.
On a five to one vote, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a proposal to make it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving. Covington Senator Patrick McMath says distracted driving causes numerous wrecks and the phone is what distracts most drivers. McMath’s measure heads to the Senate floor, but similar bills have failed to pass in previous sessions. The legislation has the support of the Department of Insurance.
DOTD is set to take advantage of the lull in traffic cause by the COVID shutdown to clean up some problem areas. Spokesperson Rodney Mallet says for the next two weeks they’ll be dedicating extra daytime crews to removing litter, and removing tree limbs and vegetation that block line of sight. Normal DOTD operations such as pothole filling and other roadwork have not been impacted by COVID-19 according to Mallet.
Vidalia Mills, a Louisiana-based producer of yarns and fabrics is adding to its production portfolio with the purchase of an automated surgical mask making machine and two automatic N-95 mask making machines to help manufacture PPE. Managing partner Dan Feibus says the machinery should arrive by the end of the month and will be up and running by August.
Police Corporal Derrick Maglone was released from Our Lady of the Lake Hospital Thursday afternoon after being shot two weeks ago in the line of duty. His partner, Lieutenant Glenn Hutto, was killed in the same incident. Corporal Maglone is expected to make a full recovery.
The South Louisiana Community College announced on Thursday that it had received a resignation letter for its chancellor, Dr. Natalie Harder, and is now searching for her replacement. Harder also reveals that she has accepted a job offer as president of Coker University in South Carolina and her last day with SLCC will be May 29.
The New Orleans Saints have released the schedule for their 2020 season. The 2020 preseason begins Aug. 13-17 with the regular season beginning on Sunday, Sept. 13. Week one of the regular season will see the Saints hosting the Tampa Bay Bucks and Tom Brady.
LSU basketball announced yesterday they will face South Florida in Atlanta on December 12th. The neutral-site game will be part of a quadruple-header that will also include Clemson versus Alabama, Mississippi State against Dayton, and Auburn versus Memphis. Organizers are calling it a Holiday Hoopsgiving and it will also include a high school showcase and charitable events.
Turner Sports announced Thursday that the golf match involving Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson, along with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will result in a ten-million-dollar donation to coronavirus relief efforts. The round of golf will take place on May 24th at the Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. Woods’ will be Manning’s golf partner and face a team featuring Mickelson and Brady.
ESPN reports that Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts will host a call for all players today. Which happens to be the same day some teams will be allowed to reopen practice facilities. A handful of players at a time will be allowed to work out as long as they socially distance from each other. Sources say the call will allow players to address any concerns or ask questions.
And Major League Baseball is expected to offer its players’ association a return to play proposal within a week. A second spring training will reportedly start in mid-June and an 80 to 100-game season could start in early July.