News for Friday July 24th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana surpassed 100,000 total confirmed COVID positive cases since the pandemic began Thursday as the count continues to grow at a rapid pace. 2,300 new cases were reported yesterday alone. Governor Edwards says that grim accomplishment should inspire residents to redouble their spread mitigation efforts. A conspiracy theory questioning whether that figure includes multiple tests from one person is gaining steam. Edwards called it a disinformation campaign aimed at minimizing how serious the situation is. Edwards’ Phase Two order has been extended for another two weeks with added restrictions on bars and the mask mandate. He says it’s the only way we can get back to a sense of normalcy.
Healthcare officials in Acadiana warn the public that they are running out of regional healthcare capacity due to COVID-19 case growth. Lafayette General Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Amanda Logue says their system hospitals and ICUs are full of COVID patients. As of Thursday, the Lafayette General Health system had 143 COVID patients. That number was only 20 six weeks ago. Our Lady of the Lourdes CMO Dr. Henry Kaufman says their healthcare workers have seen a 300 percent increase in cases in this second wave compared to the first wave.
New unemployment claims and existing claims both increased again last week, with more than 313,100 workers remaining on the unemployment rolls across Louisiana.
There were 32,079 first-time unemployment claims filed last week, up from 26,351 one week before. State officials shuttered bars in recent weeks in an attempt to curb the spike in new coronavirus cases and ease the squeeze on local health care systems. That move is being reflected in the unemployment claims, with first-time claims in the food services and accommodation sector jumping more than 6,100 last week.
The National Hurricane Center says a tropical depression heading towards Texas has developed into Tropical Storm Hanna overnight and is expected to produce heavy rains in Louisiana. State Climatologist Barry Keim says the tropical storm could produce about an inch of rain here in central Louisiana through Monday, two to four inches along the I-10 corridor and four inches along the coast. The forecast calls for the storm to make landfall on Saturday between Houston and Brownsville, Texas.
Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins officially qualifies to challenge Senator Bill Cassidy. Perkins, a Democrat says his decision to run rose from the concerns he has about how Congress is handling the coronavirus pandemic and this moment calls for strong, decisive leadership in DC. Perkins says DC is moving too slow in helping families and cites legislation sent from the House to the Senate over two months ago that would have provided much-needed relief to working families.
Local governments have been reimbursed 127 million dollars so far as part of the CARES Act. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the money did not reimburse revenue losses for local governments and only paid for COVID-related expenditures. Dardenne says the bulk of the money reimbursed so far has gone to southern parishes hit hard in the early days like Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The funding comes from a 524 million dollar fund for local governments.
The U-S Senate is about to begin debating the fifth coronavirus relief package, which will likely come with a trillion-dollar price tag. Senator John Kennedy expects there will be additional help for unemployment compensation, but it will not be at the same $600 per week level that it has been at. Not all Republican lawmakers are in agreement with the latest relief effort as some feel the cost is too much with a national debt that continues to climb.