News for Tuesday June 30th, 2020
Compiled By Dave Graichen
Louisiana tacks on another 845 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the grand total to just over 57,000. 46% of those new cases are among those 29 and younger. Hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been in over a month, increasing by 22 to 737. Total deaths, 3,091, up by 5.
Governor Edwards says he will consider a New Orleans lawmaker’s request to place regulations on visitors to Louisiana entering from COVID hotspots, but he says his public health experts haven’t said it is necessary.
The City of Alexandria announced yesterday that it will not host the annual Rock the Red celebration nor will there be a public fireworks display this year for Independence Day on July 4. In light of the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Central Louisiana, as well as the extension of the Phase 2 executive order by Gov. John Bel Edwards, City officials determined it was best not to host an activity that could encourage people to gather in crowds. There was also a reminder in the press release, as the City of Alexandria reminds residents that it is illegal for individuals to set off fireworks in the city limits.
The APD reports another death in the city over the weekend. Officers were called to the 3200 block of Laurel Street Sunday evening. Upon arriving the found the deceased victim. No other information has been released by authorities.
A measure providing grocery store workers, bus drivers, law enforcement personnel, and healthcare workers with a 250-dollar check gains final legislative approval in the House and is heading to the Governor’s desk. Monroe Senator Jay Morris says federal coronavirus relief dollars will pay for the tax credit. Front line or essential workers will be eligible for this 250-dollar check if they make less than 50-thousand dollars a year.
A Louisiana abortion law authored by Monroe Senator Katrina Jackson in 2014 is struck down by the Supreme Court. If upheld the law would have required abortion clinics to have admitting privileges, which pro-choice advocates say would have closed two of the state’s three clinics. The Supreme Court also struck down a similar law out of Texas in 2016. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit preventing Louisiana’s law from going into effect. The decision was 5-4 against Louisiana’s law.
Tort reform aimed at lowering auto insurance rates has taken center stage through most of the regular and special session and now lawmakers have until 6PM tonight to pass their last ditch efforts before the session ends. LaPolitics.com Publisher Jeremy Alford says legislators are still considering everything from resolutions temporarily suspending portions of current tort law, to new bills by a freshman and the House Speaker. Alford says one of the most interesting new developments is a bill by Mandeville freshman Representative Richard Nelson that includes items like a lower jury trial threshold, but also has a sunset attached, that would require Insurance Companies to reduce rates or the law would go away.
Outside of the central battle over tort lawmakers have a number of other issues to finalize. Legislation shielding public and private schools from suits related to potential COVID outbreaks on their campuses is one vote away from final passage. The now 35 billion dollar budget still needs to be finalized. A number of tax breaks and credits for COVID impacted businesses are still being considered as well, but are finding opposition from Democrats who say the state doesn’t have the revenue to do that right now.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission reports over half of the money in the state’s unemployment trust fund has been spent during the coronavirus pandemic. LWC Executive Director Ava Dejoie says there is growing concern the fund, which was at one time just over one billion dollars, will run dry within 14 weeks. From March 22nd through June 26th, Dejoie says the state has paid out $3.5 billion in unemployment benefits, with most of that being federal dollars from the CARES Act. If the fund goes empty, out of work residents would still receive unemployment. Dejoie says several states have already run out of unemployment money and if it happens to Louisiana, the state will borrow money from the feds like the other states.
Health officials believe that recent demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd by police have not resulted in a significant addition of new COVID-19 cases. Assistant state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says that’s probably because the virus doesn’t spread well outside and protestors were wearing mask, but adds no matter what other mitigation efforts are taken, it is still always best to avoid large crowds.
LSU athletics director Scott Woodward previously said a decision will be made in July on whether fans will be allowed inside Tiger Stadium to watch football games this season. But a professor at the LSU School of Public Health says the COVID-19 risk is too high. Epidemiologist Edward Trapido told LSU’s student newspaper that he would not recommend fans at LSU games this year. One of his colleagues, Susanne Straif-Bourgeois, calls it a logistical nightmare. An LSU spokesperson says the school remains hopeful that fans will be allowed in Tiger Stadium, but a lot still has to be determined with respect to COVID.
LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade is welcoming his players back on campus for voluntarily workouts, but he’ll do so in stages. Five players were expected to report today, another four or five players will return to campus on July 13th and the rest of the team will arrive at the end of July.
LSU announces that senior pitcher Matthew Beck from Alexandria will wear number eight in 2021. The number eight jersey is given each season to the upperclassmen who exemplifies the spirit of LSU Baseball through his leadership and dedication to the program. Beck has been a solid pitcher out of the bullpen for the Tigers, posting a 9-1 record with a 2.66 ERA in 77 career appearances.
Louisiana Tech says eight of its players are competing in summer league action across the South. Cole McConnell, Logan McLeod, Jack Payne, Ben Brantley, Joseph Carbone, Adarius Myers, Kyle Crigger and Manny Garcia are getting a chance to play after a shortened 2020 season.
Several major league players have made the decision not to play in 2020 because health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19. The World Series champs will not have first baseman Ryan Zimmerman or pitcher Joss Ross, and Arizona pitcher Mike Leake says he’s not playing as well.