News for Tuesday March 17th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana is up to 136 positive COVID-19 cases, and is now reporting it’s third death, a victim at a New Orleans area nursing home.
Governor Edwards yesterday issued a new series of business restrictions, calling for the closure of gyms and bars, along with the closure of dining rooms for restaurants. Restaurants will be confined to providing curbside pickup take out options until April 13th, with a 13-day extension possible. All gatherings of 50 or more people are banned by the state, while are gatherings of ten or more are not recommended by the CDC.
Rapides Regional Medical Center announced yesterday, that as of today, visitors for most patients will not be allowed. The only visitors allowed will be one parent/caregiver for pediatric or mentally disabled patients who can't be left alone, one partner for active labor and delivery patients during delivery only, one caregiver/driver for outpatient surgery or cath lab patients and one family member for patients being given end-of-life care.
After the recommendations of the CDC, the Louisiana Legislature has adjourned until at least March 31. Lafayette Republican Stuart Bishop spoke to the House and says mathematically, there is no way to get business done if following CDC guidelines.
Lake Charles Republican Phillip Tarver objected to the adjournment saying it is the wrong message to send to citizens and it is the duty as leaders of the state to conduct business. The resolution of adjournment was adopted a 100 to 1 vote. Bishop says the move is in the best interest of the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says initially the plan was for the session to continue, with social distancing enforced and to check those who enter the Capitol for a fever but it’s the right call because it only would have taken one positive test to shut down the Capitol. Pinsonat says the compressed schedule is likely going to result in non-essential legislation being abandoned. However a budget will still need to be passed by July 1st.
Casinos in Louisiana have ceased gaming operations for at least the next two weeks as the coronavirus continues to impact Louisiana. Chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board Ronnie Jones says the casinos were notified this was likely to happen, adding owners have been very supportive. Jones estimates the lost state revenue will be about $1.6 million each day of the closure. The closure is not enforceable at any of the state’s Tribal Casinos, however It appears most have either closed or will close later today.
The Louisiana Department of Education will continue serving meals during the statewide school shutdown. Assistant State Superintendent Catherine Pozniak says the food service is made possible by waivers from the federal government, adding that more schools are working out the details of exactly how to best serve food. Schools will remain closed until April 13th
Louisiana Public Broadcasting officially launches "At-Home Learning," with the Louisiana Department of Education. If you are a parent or teacher of students in grades Pre-K-12, LPB has resources available to help make your students' time at home more educational and productive. The information can be found at lpb.org/athome.
Ag Commissioner Mike Strain is asking Louisianans not to abandon their pets during the COVID-19 crisis and if you do get infected, to hand them over to friends or family. Strain says unless you absolutely cannot care for your pet, don’t turn it over to the state, or set it loose because shelters are beginning to fill up, and if you receive a pet from an infected family member, Strain says you need to disinfect it. A good soapy bath will do that..
Festival International in Lafayette has been called Off for this spring. The music festival was scheduled for April 22-26. Festival organizers of the five day event say they are looking at the possibility of moving the event to the fall..