News for Thursday May 21st, 2020
Compiled By Dave Graichen
Louisiana reported 27 new COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday. On the positive side, the number of COVID-19 patients in Louisiana hospitals has dropped below 1,000 for the first time since late March. On his monthly call in radio show yesterday Governor John Bel Edwards noted that just over a month ago the state recorded 2,134 individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19 and as of noon yesterday the number was 931. Vent usages is also down by two to 110, the lowest since March 25th.
The Department of Health is investigating a COVID-19 outbreak that’s infected about 100 people at three Acadiana crawfish farms. Crawfish Promotion Board Chairman David Savoy says the migrant workers live in communal spaces where social distancing is not possible, and he does not believe the industry could have done anything differently to avoid the outbreaks.
Two State Police Troopers are injured after being dispatched to assist Hammond Police with a pursuit around 2:15 Wednesday morning. A tire deflation device was deployed, disabling the suspect’s vehicle, and upon the troopers’ retrieval of the device, they were struck by a Hammond Police unit involved in the pursuit. One trooper has been treated and released, the other, identified as Trooper George Baker, is in critical condition.
The state’s top school board selects Jefferson Parish Schools superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley as the state’s new education superintendent. Brumley will fill the position once occupied by John White. The Sabine native was one of 21 applicants . Brumley has led Jefferson Parish Schools since 2018
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular session the budget for next fiscal year is finally set to be taken up this morning in House Appropriations. Between federal funding and the use of rainy day funds, the budget deficit for the next fiscal year has shrunk to only 80 million dollars from an initial projection of nearly a billion. Despite that easier to handle fiscal situation political analyst Bernie Pinsonat believes it is a safe bet that a special session will need to be called. The regular session ends June 1st and a budget must be passed before July 1st.
An attempt to lower the state’s 247 dollar a week unemployment benefit is shelved after Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Ava Dejoie testifies against the move, saying the reduction would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds. Representative Gerald Beaullieu (beau-you) admitted to not even consulting with LWC before filing the legislation.
A bill significantly expanding medical marijuana access is nearing final passage. Under the legislation any condition a doctor considers “debilitating to an individual patient” would be eligible to receive medical marijuana. New Iberia Senator Fred Mills says the current limitations are too strict. The legislation lifts the requirement that a doctor is specifically licensed to prescribe medical marijuana.
Today NOAA announces its initial outlook for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season that starts June 1. State climatologist Barry Keim anticipates a forecast that leans towards an above normal season with the primary factor being the sea surface temps in the Atlantic. A normal season is twelve named storms. Keim anticipates NOAA will call for a wide range of 10 to 16 named storms. 2020 has already seen the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur that has stayed offshore.
The feds award Louisiana 190 million dollars to expand COVID-19 testing and establish antibody testing in the future once the FDA approves a procedure. Governor Edwards has expressed optimism the state will move into Phase Two in June. Congressman Garret Graves says this funding ensures we have the testing capacity to meet the federal benchmarks to do so.
Casinos are experiencing a promising start to reopening after being closed since mid-March. Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones says players are showing up and are not pushing back against virus spread mitigation efforts of wearing masks and social distancing. Jones adds that people were lined up at the doors waiting on the casinos to reopen on Monday. In Marksville the Paragon Casino opened at noon yesterday. The Jena Choctaw casino in Grant Parish will open on Friday.
Burl Cain, the well-known and embattled former warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, is heading east. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced Wednesday, May 20 that Cain has been hired as the new head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Cain, who is now 77 years old, spent more than 20 years as prison administrator and warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary. He retired in January of 2016 amid a series of investigative reports by The Advocate newspaper.
The NCAA Division One council has reportedly voted to approve voluntary athletic activities in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball beginning on June first. The rest of the sports will be acted on at a later date according to Yahoo Sports. LSU officials have said they hope to get football players back on campus next month and the SEC is set to vote on Friday whether their schools can reopen their team facilities on either June 1st or June 15th.
Hopes are increasing that football players can get back on campus next month for offseason workouts. New LSU starting quarterback Myles Brennan is hoping this is the case as he looks to take over for Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Brennan will have two proven receivers to target in the passing game, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Junior. Offensive Coordinator Steve Ensminger says he thinks Racey McMath can have a breakout season in 2020 and he likes the speed that a lot of the young receivers have shown…
The Athletic is reporting that Disney World in Orlando has emerged as the host site for NBA games if the league decides to move forward with resuming the season. Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith reports that Disney has started to adjust its hotel space to accommodate players, coaches and staff. The NBA has also considered Las Vegas. According to the Athletic report, a second training camp will begin in mid-June and games would resume in mid-July.