News for Thursday May 28th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana drops below 800 total people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Wednesday’s update, down from the peak of 2134 people on April 13th. 443 new cases were also reported along with 21 new deaths bringing the state’s total number of fatalities to 2,617. At his briefing yesterday, Governor John Bel Edward said the state is getting closer to its goal of testing 200-thousand people this month.
Louisiana reports its first death linked to a rare disease, believed to be caused by COVID-19, in children and young adults. Governor Edwards says the state has reported 13 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome with patients ranging in age from 0-19 years old. No information will be shared about the victim due to their age.
The Louisiana House has approved a 30-billion-dollar spending plan for next fiscal year. It contains nearly a billion dollars in federal aid that are being used to avoid deep cuts to state services. The proposal fully funds TOPS, K-through-12 schools, and social services. The budget heads to the Senate, but final approval is not expected until a special session that will start on Monday night.
A House committee plays host to a fiery debate over coastal lawsuits filed against the oil and gas industry by local governments. Houma Senator Michael Fesi’s bill would bar local governments from filing a suit. Former state senator and current director of the Port of Iberia Craig Romero says the lawsuits are a big problem for the industry. But, St. Benard Parish president Guy McInnis says if you don’t want to get sued then don’t pollute. The bill was approved and is headed to the House floor.
The House will consider final passage on a bill allocating 200 million dollars of the 1.8 billion dollar CARES Act federal funding for the state to small business grants. The National Federation of Independent Businesses backs the legislation. But Governor John Bel Edwards says that money needs to be set aside to help local governments cover revenue losses from the shutdown. Edwards says it is the intent behind those federal funds.
The Senate voted 28-6 Wednesday to approve a bill to make medical marijuana more widely available across the state. The bill would lift regulations that require doctors to register with the state to recommend it and that limits its use in treating diseases.
Under the bill, any state-licensed physician could recommend medical marijuana for the treatment of debilitating health conditions. The Senate approved several amendments to the bill, which had already passed the House, so it will now go back to the House for final consideration.
The Louisiana House has rejected a proposal that would have banned handheld cell phone use while behind the wheel. The measure failed on a 40-59 vote. New Orleans Representative Gary Carter voted against the legislation over concerns it could lead to racial profiling. Carter says if the bill became law, a police officer could pull over a vehicle just because he saw the driver holding a cell phone. Other lawmakers also complained the legislation is a violation of our civil liberties. Texting while driving is already illegal in Louisiana.
Medicaid recipients in nursing homes are entitled to keep stimulus checks. Attorney General Jeff Landry is issuing a major advisement to nursing home residents and a warning to anyone trying to defraud them. Landry is advising nursing home residents and their loved ones to be vigilant against having their federal stimulus payments improperly taken from them. General Landry notes that while Medicaid recipients may have to sign over resources, in some circumstances, to nursing homes where they reside, this does not apply to stimulus checks from the CARES Act.
Tropical Storm Bertha forms Wednesday off the coast of the Carolinas marking two named storms for the year before the 2020 hurricane season even begins. State Climatologist Barry Keim says this has only happened five times previous to this and warns that history shows storm activity this early in the year is often a harbinger of a busy season to come.
Three people were killed and one was injured after a 23-year-old man who struggled with mental illness opened fire on his family and then shot himself in St Helena Parish Wednesday. Authorities are not sure what led to the shooting.
The Louisiana Department of Education announces every childcare provider in the state will receive free supplies to help ensure a healthy reopening following the COVID-19 outbreak. Assistant Superintendent Jessica Baghian says the state worked with vendors to acquire supplies for 16-hundred childcare providers. The supplies include no-touch thermometers, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap, and other cleaning products.
The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in conjunction with the Helis Foundation have pooled funding to help support humanity organizations impacted by COVID-19. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities President and Executive Director Miranda Restovic says so far they have tallied a loss of $30-million from 60 applications that have been submitted. She anticipates that number will grow as closures continue.
The grants range between $3,000 and $20,000 and Restovic says so far 42 humanities organizations in the state have been awarded funding.
The Saints have reportedly added some depth to their offensive line as they’ve inked 28-year-old James Hurst to a one year deal. The Ravens released Hurst after six seasons in Baltimore. He’s played in 90 games in his NFL career and has made 44 starts at multiple positions on the o-line, except at center. But he’s suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Crescent-City sports-dot-com reports the LHSAA is investigating four New Orleans-area schools for holding summer workouts. The association has said that summer practices cannot take place until June eighth and schools who violate this rule could face sanctions. The report did not name the schools that are under investigation.
Today NFL owners are scheduled to vote on an alternative to the onside kick. The proposal says teams should have the option of trying to convert on fourth and 15 after a score instead of going for an onside kick. In the last two years, less than 10-percent of onside kicks succeeded.
Tulane right-hander Braden Olthoff has been named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. The California native was 4-0 in four starts with a 0.32 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 28 innings. Northwestern State right-hander Logan Hoffman was also named to the second team. The junior from Canada did not allow a run in 28 innings of work and finished with a 4-0 record.
LSU pitchers Devin Fontenot and Jaden Hill were named 2020 third-team All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball. Fontenot was 1-0 with 0.90 ERA and four saves. Hill allowed just one hit in 11.2 innings. Louisiana Tech center fielder Parker Bates was also named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. The senior from Tyler, Texas hit .422 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs.
Former LSU basketball player Skylar Mays has been named the H Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year. It’s the highest academic honor an SEC athlete can receive.