News for Thursday June 18th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Health reports a total of 928 additional cases of COVID-19 but officials note that 129 cases are related to test backlogs. That still leaves 799 cases. Wednesday’s count is the largest single-day increase since April 10, which was the tail end of the peak in the state.
Governor Edwards recommends boycotting businesses that do not enforce social distancing and mask recommendations. Edwards told a caller to his monthly talk show Ask the Governor that the government can’t mandate mask use and social distancing, but the market can. If you go to a business that does not follow the state recommendations, leave and go somewhere else. Edwards made the comments in light of recent jumps in positive COVID cases. He says the good news is the increased case numbers are likely the result of increased testing capacity. Hospitalizations are also up on average over the past four days.
KALB TV is reporting the death of a prominent local attorney in an apparent boating accident on Kincaid Lake Wednesday. Albin Provosty was pronounced dead at a local hospital after he was found in the lake just before noon in what is being described as a boating accident. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is doing an investigation into the incident and will release more information at a later date.
Alexandria City Council has several resolutions for its June 23 meeting that are aimed at removing the Confederate Monument in front of the Rapides Parish Courthouse. It’s the second attempt by the council to remove the statue. Back in 2017 the council tried to remove it, but there was confusion over who actually owned it.
A House Committee defeats a proposal that would have stripped Louisiana police officers of their legal protection from civil lawsuits over alleged civil rights violations like excessive force or wrongful death. Baton Rouge Representative Edmond Jordan brought the bill. He says “qualified immunity” makes cops unaccountable for their actions. St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne spoke against it. He says the bill would have made officers think twice before intervening in the middle of active criminal behavior out of fear of being sued.
Louisiana colleges and universities are refunding students approximately $24 million due to the coronavirus interruption of the academic school year. LSU tops the list, returning $4.4 million. Most of the refunds cover charges for housing, which students had to vacate about two months before the scheduled end of the school year. Colleges and universities received $147 million from the $2.2 trillion federal rescue bill.
Lower paying employers can now report employees for refusing to come back to work because unemployment benefits pay better The Louisiana Workforce Commission releases a tool to help report employees who are refusing to come back to work while still claiming unemployment benefits. Assistant Secretary with LWC Robert Wooley says it is a simple process, just head to LAworks.net and there will be a link on the front page. Typically, someone would only be eligible for $247 in unemployment benefits each week, but an extra $600 in federal money makes it hard for some employers to compete, creating issues in luring staff back. Wooley says they’ve already received several hundred reports.
A UL Lafayette economics professor warns our economic recovery from the COVID recession could drag well into 2022. Gary Wagner says if the pandemic had not hit it is likely we would have experienced a minor economic slowdown, but because of COVID-19, we’re now looking at historic long-term job losses.
A measure that would provide the gaming industry with an 83-million dollar tax break over the next five years is awaiting debate on the Senate floor after a Senate Committee approved the bill. Lake Charles Senator Ronnie Johns says his proposal is to help an industry that’s been hit hard by the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
The numbers are out regarding casino revenue in the month of May and the grand total is $70 million. Overall, the feeling is the turnout is better than expected, but Casino Association of Louisiana executive director Wade Duty feels a clearer picture of the pandemic’s impact on the industry will be revealed with June numbers. June’s numbers will also reflect the reopening of New Orleans casinos which did not see an opening during May.
A House committee has approved a bill that would result in the state sending 250-dollar checks to some front-line employees who were required to work when the coronavirus pandemic hit Louisiana. Shreveport Representative Sam Jenkins says front line workers, first responders, healthcare, and childcare workers who earn less than 50-thousand dollars a year will be eligible, and the cash will help stimulate local economies.
LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said four parishes have reported having one school each with football players who have tested positive for coronavirus. Bonine did not disclose the names of the parishes or schools involved. He did note that the group includes one parish located outside East Baton Rouge, one in north Louisiana, one in the Acadiana area and one located in southwest Louisiana. The LHSAA has more than 250 football schools.
Joe Burrow is the first LSU football player to be named the SEC Male Athlete of the Year. That honor was announced earlier today by the Southeastern Conference. While Burrow is the first Tiger football player to win the award, previous winners from LSU include Shaquille O’ Neal, who won it twice and former track stars Walter Davis and Xavier Carter.
It appears Major League Baseball is finally getting its act together. Commissioner Rob Manfred has confirmed he met face to face with the head of the players union Tony Clark and they jointly developed a framework that could result in an agreement that would result in a shortened 2020 season. According to the Athletic, Major League Baseball’s proposal calls for a 60-game season starting July 19th or the 20th and players would get a full prorated salary. There will also be expanded playoffs for this year and next and the players would agree to waive any potential labor grievance.