News for Monday May 18th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Starting today, casinos and video poker truck stops throughout the state begin to reopen. However, Diamond Jacks Casino and Hotel in Bossier City will not be among them as they have announced a permanent closure. Ownership cites the sudden, unforeseeable market conditions from the COVID-19 pandemic for prompting the decision. According to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, the casino brings in $7.5 million to the state and $1.5 million to Bossier City in tax revenue. More than 300 will be without a job. The Paragon Casino and Resort in Marksville plans to reopen on Wednesday and the Jena Choctaw Casino on Friday.
Starting today, the Office of Motor Vehicles will begin limited office services at eleven locations throughout the state, including the issuance or renewal of driver’s licenses and photo IDs, ordering a duplicate title, renewing vehicle registrations, and title transfers. Customers are still encouraged to make use of the OMV website, expresslane.org, when possible. The Alexandria OMV office is the only one opening in Cenla for now.
Governor Edwards says if you get a call from a number that reads 877-766-2130, it’s a contact tracer. Edwards says it’s important you answer the contact tracer’s questions because they will inform you that a person you’ve been in contact with has tested positive for the coronavirus. The state previously had 70 contact tracers employed, but they’ve just trained about 300 more.
Movies theaters are allowed to welcome customers back under the Governor’s Phase One reopening plan, however, most of the marquees remain dark. President of the Tristate Independent Theatre Association, Adam Holland says theatres didn’t know when Phase One would actually go into effect until the announcement on May 11th and they also have to coordinate with studios for product. Due to a lack of new releases to show and business procedures that must be implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Holland says most theaters will open next month.
The CDC warns physicians to be on the lookout for a possibly COVID-linked illness that has impacted over a hundred children across the country. Ochsner Lafayette Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Katherine Lindle says the symptoms do not look like COVID-19 in adults. Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome appears to take hold in many patients after their initial COVID-19 infection has passed. Lindle says sometimes it’s several weeks later. Ochsner reports having treated three such cases in Louisiana, and Lindle says fatal outcomes for children afflicted by the disease are rare.
The full Senate is scheduled to tackle two major bills today, one being tort reform aimed at reducing auto insurance rates and the other revoking local governments’ ability to sue oil companies for coastal damages. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says there are enough votes in the upper chamber to pass tort reform. The coastal land loss lawsuit legislation had strong GOP support, but Pinsonat says local leaders are pushing coastal Republicans away from the bill. Pinsonat says it is possible the bill will be shelved today due to a lack of votes.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser calls on Louisianans to kick start the tourism economy by making 2020 the “Year of the Louisiana Road Trip”. Nungesser says if Louisianans can prove you can safely tour the state more out of state visitors will return.