News for Tuesday May 19th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The Department of Health reported 15 new COVID-19 fatalities yesterday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 2,440. On Sunday, the state reported just 12 fatalities. Governor John Bel Edwards says it’s been since the end of March that the state has reported daily death totals this low. The total number of cases increased by 277 to 34,709.
The Louisiana Department of Health has made public a list of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities where residents and or staff have tested positive for COVID-19. Governor Edwards says you can find the 12-page document on LDH’s coronavirus webpage and click on the tab that says nursing homes. Louisiana is reporting 4,084 total resident cases in nursing homes along with 987 resident fatalities and 1,737 staff cases.
And the Acadiana region is reporting an uptick in COVID cases. Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux says around 100 people at three crawfish farms have tested positive…
The Rapides Parish Courthouse reopened to the public yesterday with new guidelines in place to prevent the spread of covid-19. The Police Jury enacted a statute that requires everyone who comes into the courthouse to do business to wear a mask, and people who work at the courthouse who come into contact with the public are also required to wear a mask. In accordance with phase one orders, the courthouse will only be allowing up to 150 people in the building at a time, and all foot traffic must come and go only through the front entrance. Anyone entering the building will also be screened.
27-year-old woman is dead, and nine people are being treated at a hospital from severe weather that hit a rural area in northeast Acadia Parish Sunday night. The one fatality took place on Prudence Highway north of Church Point. Sheriff KP Gibson says the loss of life could have been much worse as many residents were unprepared for the impact of the severe weather. The NWS has confirmed the storm was an EF3 Tornado with 150 mph winds.
J.C. Penney will close almost 30% of its 846 stores as part of a restructuring under bankruptcy protection. The ailing department store said Monday that it plans to close about 192 stores by February 2021, and then 50 additional stores in the year after that. No list has been released yet by the company showing what stores are on the chopping block.
One of the signature fights of the Legislative session, tort reform, easily clears the Senate on a veto-proof 29-8 vote. The legislation lowers the jury trial threshold from 50,000 dollars to 5,000 dollars, increases the prescriptive period for filing a suit, and implements a swath of other lawsuits reforms. Author River Ridge Senator Kirk Talbot says these changes will save auto insurers money and bill requires they pass on a minimum ten percent savings to customers. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau took issue with the bill. He says it has been written with loopholes that allow insurers to skip out on passing along tort related savings.
Louisiana public school students who received free or reduced-priced meals at school can now receive 285-dollars per child to offset the loss of those meals due to COVID-19 school closures. Louisiana has been approved by the USDA to issue Pandemic EBT cards to help feed approximately 600-thousand students.
Rosier economic forecasts push oil prices above 30 dollars a barrel yesterday, a two month high for the commodity. Oil started the year over 60 dollars a barrel, and while that is unlikely to return this year LSU Center for Energy Studies Executive Director David Dismukes says the industry can survive at these prices. Dismukes says Monday’s notable 11 percent spike was the result of new positive news related to vaccine development.
The price of oil may have rebounded but it still sits far below the level needed to maintain revenue for the state budget in the next fiscal year, and that combined with the COVID economic shutdown has left Louisiana with a billion dollar deficit. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is working with the administration to craft a balanced budget and says they’ve begun identifying ways to utilize federal dollars to reduce that deficit. Dardenne says a portion of the rainy day fund can be used as well, leaving just 80-million dollars in cuts. Dardenne warns that 80 million will largely have to come out of the Louisiana Department of Health’s budget.
The search continues for the gunmen involved in a mass shooting that wounded 13 people in Bogalusa on Saturday night. Major Wendell O’ Berry says between 500 to 800 people gathered at an intersection to remember the life of Dominique James, who was recently murdered. O’ Berry says as the crowd grew shots were fired. O’ Berry says 12 of the 13 victims were male and some are critically wounded.
A woman is dead and two juveniles were taken to the hospital after a train collided with their stalled out vehicle in Webster Parish. State Police Trooper Brent Hardy says 51-year-old Rebecca Woodard of Minden and one juvenile were attempting to push the vehicle when the train came into view. Woodard was transported to the hospital where she later died. The juvenile in the vehicle sustained moderate injuries.
The Pete Maravich Assembly Center at LSU has hosted a PPE production facility for about the last month and now the operation is wrapping up. Director of Economic Development at LSU Greg Trahan says during that time, they made a big impact on the PPE needs of the state’s healthcare workers.
LSU added its 11th commitment to the 2021 recruiting class today as four-star safety Khari Gee announced his verbal pledge to the Tigers. The Atlanta native chose LSU over Clemson. He’s rated as the ninth-best safety in the country.
The Pelicans practice facility is opened to players Monday for the first time since March 20th, but there are restrictions in place. No more than four players can be in the facility at one time. Players can work out with one staff member, but not the head coach or an assistant. And the staff member who is working with the player must wear gloves if that person is rebounding for the player. The TV voice of the Pelicans Joel Myers believes the season will resume in July. New Orleans is 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 18 games left.
The Saints have announced the signing of running back Ty Montgomery. The former Stanford star was drafted as a wide receiver in 2015 but made the move to running back in Green Bay. He’s also played for the Ravens and Jets. In career 58 career games and 16 starts, he’s rushed for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also caught 120 passes for 982 yards. Montgomery can also return kicks.
And the LHSAA announces if a high school begins summer workouts before June 8th, it could result in the school being placed on probation, suspended, or fined.