News for Monday August 17th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 1,181 more coronavirus cases and 77 more deaths during the last two days in its daily noon update Sunday, as high death rates persist coming off statewide spikes in COVID-19 positive cases in the past few weeks. The number of deaths reported in the daily update was the highest reported of any Sunday since late July, when the agency stopped reporting data on Saturday and started combining the numbers in Sunday posts.
Based on the latest data, the number of new COVID-19 cases is on the decline after the state experienced a second surge in new cases in July. So why did Louisiana experience a second surge? State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says some of those that tested negative in the spring may have relaxed on their spread mitigation efforts.
Guidry says the science community did everything they possible could to convince people to take mitigation efforts seriously, but a lack of public cooperation has set the state back.
Louisiana will need to begin borrowing money from the feds to fund our unemployment insurance program as of September 7th. Louisiana Workforce Commission Director Ava Dejoie says even if the state runs out of money in the trust fund, the state is constitutionally mandated to keep paying benefits. Over 20 states are already borrowing money from the feds to fund their unemployment programs. Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund was rated as the 17th strongest in the nation before the pandemic struck.
Three women who allegedly assaulted a Baton Rouge Chili’s worker for asking them to social distance have been arrested. A video of the event sparked national outrage. A gofundme account for the victim, 17-year old Kelsy Wallace has raised close to $60 thousand to help pay for college. Wallace plans to attend Xavier University and major in pre-med.
Governor John Bel Edwards says once flu shots are available folks need to line up and get one or our healthcare capacity could be pushed to its limits in the upcoming fall season due to COVID-19. Edwards says this year’s vaccination is not yet available, but when it is, you’ll hear about it.
The Louisiana Revenue Department says 69-thousand checks worth 250-dollars apiece have been sent to essential workers who had to work during the governor’s stay at home order. Secretary Kimberly Robinson says 240-thousand people have applied for the tax rebate since July 15th. Home health and healthcare workers are the second biggest category after grocery store workers. 17-million in payments have gone out and the program still has 23-million available dollars, so the state is still accepting applications at frontlineworkers.la.gov
The National Hurricane Center reported Sunday evening, a fast-moving disturbance might approach the Gulf of Mexico later this week as a tropical cyclone. Forecasters noted shower and thunderstorm activity associated with a tropical wave about 500 east of the Windward Islands is increasing as the wave moves west at about 20 mph.
On its current path and at its current speed, the wave will approach the Windward and southern Leeward Islands on today and move across the eastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday. After that time, however, the system is expected to move more slowly westward across the central and western Caribbean Sea, where upper-level winds could become more conducive for the development of a tropical depression during the middle-to-latter part of this week.
The fate of New Orleans Mardi Gras parades in 2021 is still up in the air after krewes met last Thursday and came to no definitive decision on the matter. The heart of the season is set for early-mid February next year, but there’s no indication a vaccine will be widely available by then. Fat Tuesday is February 16th in 2021.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is reaching out to auto insurance companies who are not currently offering coverage in Louisiana to let them know the state has made changes to its civil litigation system for car crashes. LABI President Stephen Waguespack says they have sent out more than 1,100 letters. Waguespack says there are so few choices for commercial auto insurers in Louisiana, that it will only take a handful of companies to start writing new business to see major changes in rates.
Louisiana scores another 205 million dollars from BP oil spill money to help address coastal land loss and ecological issues. Executive Director of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Bren Haase says over $25 million will be put toward oyster-related projects, including the construction of two brood reefs in St. Bernard Parish.. Haase says $3 million will be going toward a system that is in place to respond to injured marine mammals.
The husband of Nancy Parker, the New Orleans news anchor who was killed in a plane crash a year ago tomorrow is suing the FAA for $23 million. Glen Boyd claims that the FAA was negligent when it approved the flight that crashed on Aug. 16, last year killing Parker and pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus. The lawsuit alleges FAA officials allowed the flight to proceed even though the plane had a history of mechanical issues and had maintenance problems that delayed the flight the day of the crash.
The Pelicans are searching for a new head coach after the team decided to move on from Alvin Gentry after five seasons and just one postseason appearance. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin says he’ll take his time in finding Gentry’s replacement. The Pelicans job should an attractive one. The roster features a potential superstar in Zion Williamson, an all-star in Brandon Ingram and one of the better two-way guards in the league in Jrue Holiday.