News for Friday May 22nd, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state reports 1,188 new COVID-19 cases, but only 506 of them appear to be from recent tests and the rest are from a testing backlog. Total cases: 36,504. Total fatalities: 2,506… an increase of 21. Ventilator usage: 103, down by 3. Hospitalizations: 884, down by 47. LSU Infectious Diseases expert Doctor Catherine O’Neal estimates that it will be early spring before a successful vaccine can be mass-produced. She says that will help protect the vulnerable population, but there will still be a risk.
The Alexandria Mall announced Wednesday that the shopping center will re-open next Tuesday. The hours will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The food court area and children's play area will remain closed for now..
The House will take up a few controversial gun rights bills this morning. Capitol observer Clancy DuBos says HB 140 by Erath Representative Blake Miguez would block local governments from limiting where guns can be carried. HB 334 allows concealed carry in houses of worship. Bill sponsor Thibodeaux Representative Bryan Fontenot says it is only with the permission of the house of worship, but DuBos says the legislation makes no mention of needing permission… Another bill by Miguez would bar local governments from restricting the sale or transfer of guns and ammo during a public emergency. Miguez says it was partially inspired by a declaration of emergency in New Orleans that restricted those rights. HB 781 also eliminates state and local government’s ability to seize firearms and ammunition during an emergency which Miguez says was an issue during Hurricane Katrina..
There are less than two weeks left in the session and lawmakers are reportedly having difficulty securing the two thirds veto proof majority vote needed in the house for tort reform aimed at lowering auto insurance rates to pass. Governor Edwards says if Republicans are willing to compromise a deal can be reached…
House Appropriations passes the Governor’s budget for the next fiscal year with an amendment that blocks state funding for COVID contact tracing programs that require mandatory participation. A Louisiana Department of Health spokesperson told lawmakers they have no plans to arrest or penalize infected people who refuse to answer questions about who they have been in contact with.
NOAA predicts a busy hurricane season in 2020 with the potential of 13 to 19 named storms, six to ten hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes. NOAA’s lead hurricane season forecaster Doctor Gerry Bell says they do not anticipate an El Nino forming, which can suppress hurricane activity. NOAA acting administrator, Doctor Neil Jacobs, says they are also upgrading their weather research and forecast system and other models and will also incorporate new data from satellites and radar.
The CDC now indicates that coronavirus is not easily spread through contaminated surfaces. Assistant state health officer Doctor Joseph Kanter says it is still important to keep surfaces clean, even if it’s less of a threat that human-to-human transmission.
Kanter says despite the change of wording concerning surface transmission, Kanter says it’s still a good idea to keep on high alert when it comes to hygiene.
Kanter says the human-to-human transmission is still the predominant means of spread and the risk fluctuates based on the proximity between individuals as well as the duration of that contact.
New unemployment claims across Louisiana continued to slow down and dropped by nearly 29% last week, while those continuing to receive jobless benefits nudged past the 326,000 mark. There were 28,545 newly filed claims across the state for the week ending May 16, down from 40,125 in new claims the week before. By comparison, only 2,296 initial claims were filed for the week ending May 18 in 2019.
The Louisiana Senate narrowly passed a measure Wednesday night that opponents said was a disguised attempt to kill lawsuits filed by seven coastal parishes against oil and gas companies. Supporters of Senate Bill 440 denied that, saying it was merely an attempt to ensure that any money collected from a settlement with oil and gas companies would go for coastal restoration. sSB440 now passes to a House committee for consideration after a 20-15 vote, which was the minimum number of votes needed to pass a Senate bill. The Senate needs 26 votes to override a veto by Gov. John Bel Edwards, a supporter of the lawsuits
More Louisiana residents are occupying their time during the COVID-19 pandemic by going fishing according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The sales of fishing licenses has seen a sharp uptick. LDWF spokesperson Ed Pratt says basic fishing license sales has seen a 53% increases over the same time last year.
A Livingston Parish court filing this week marks the fourth time a family has sued a former deputy, his teacher wife and the school board over an accusation that the law officer tainted cupcakes that his wife later served to students. 44 year old Dennis Perkins and 35 year old Cynthia Perkins were arrested in October on charges including allegations of rape, sexual battery, video voyeurism, mingling harmful substances, obscenity, and producing child pornography.
LSU’s 2021 recruiting class is up to a dozen commitments and the class has its first in-state verbal pledge. Four-star defensive end Saivion Jones from St. James High School has announced his commitment to LSU. Jones had 90 tackles and 13 sacks last season as a junior as he helped St. James go undefeated and win the Class 3A Championship game. Jones is the third defensive linemen in the class.
Daniel Luquet has been named as the new head football coach at Hahnville High School. Luquet was the Tigers offensive coordinator last season and he replaces Nick Saltaformaggio who is the new head coach at Holy Cross. Luquet is a former quarterback at Destrehan and has previous head coaching experience at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge.
One of the state’s most successful girls basketball coaches is leaving the prep ranks to become an assistant coach at Stetson University. In 10 years at John Curtis, Barbara Farris won five state championships.
In an effort to cut costs, The Southland Conference has announced postseason changes for baseball, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball. In those four sports, only the top four regular-season finishers will play in the Southland postseason tournament. The regular season champion will host the tournament. Baseball and softball will be double-elimination. .
The NCAA Division One council has reportedly voted to allow football and basketball players to begin voluntary workouts on college campuses starting on June 1st. LSU officials hope to get football players back on campus next month and SEC campus leaders are set to vote on Friday whether their schools can reopen their facilities in early June.
The Saints have hired a new head athletic trainer. Shone Gipson is replacing Scottie Patton. Gipson was an assistant athletic trainer in Cleveland the last two seasons, before that he was the head athletic trainer with the Buffalo Bills. Patton had been the head trainer since 2000.