News for Tuesday June 23rd, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
A deadly 3 vehicle crash yesterday shortly after noon claimed the lives of 5 people and injured 6 others. The crash on Hwy 29 at Hwy 1184 in Cottonport is being investigated by State Police who report 21 year old Derrick Kyle JR of Cottonport, was traveling northbound on Hwy 29. For reasons still under investigation his vehicle crossed the center lines into the southbound travel lane and struck a van head-on. After the head-on collision, which left both of these vehicles disabled on the highway, a car heading southbound struck the van. Kyle Jr. and his passenger, identified as 20 year old Jada Cook of Marksville, sustained fatal injuries. A third passenger in Kyle Jr.'s vehicle, identified as a juvenile, sustained serious injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The driver and three adult passengers in the van sustained serious injuries and were transported to a local hospital. Three additional adult passengers in the van sustained fatal injuries. They are identified as 60 year old Steven Freeman of Ville Platte, 50 year old Jacoby Mayes of Eunice, and 55 year old Hayward Petre Jr of Ville Platte.
Governor Edwards announces the state will not move into Phase 3 of reopening its economy and it will remain in Phase 2 for another 28 days. Edwards made the announcement on the day Louisiana surpassed 50-thousand COVID-19 cases and three-thousand deaths, Edwards says Louisiana is one of 23 states experiencing an increase in cases and hospitalizations are also on the rise. Louisiana saw its biggest single-day hospitalization increase since April on Monday.
On a positive note, the Governor said yesterday Public K-12 schools throughout Louisiana, as well as colleges and universities, can expect to open their doors "on time" in August.
A Senate-approved bill that would provide an 83-million dollar tax break over five years for the state’s casinos and race tracks moved closer to final passage as the House Ways and Means Committee approved it Monday. The legislation would allow each casino to give customers five-million dollars in free promotional play wagers without having to pay state taxes on those amounts.
An estimated 450,000 Louisiana small businesses who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 economic shutdowns could qualify to receive grants from a fund set to start disbursing money next month. For the first 21 days, only businesses with one to forty-nine employees as of March 1st that have received no federal aid can apply. 40 million dollars of the program has been set aside specifically for veteran, women, and minority-owned businesses. Not all businesses who qualify may receive grants if the fund runs out. The 300 million dollars set aside from the program is drawn from 1.8 billion in federal relief dollars sent to the state.
The Senate passes lawsuit reform legislation that supporters believe may help lower auto insurance rates. The bill lowers the jury trial threshold to 10,000 dollars, prevents insurance company’s names from being mentioned in court, and removes a gag order on whether a crash victim was wearing a seat belt. Democrats fumed over the legislation’s lack of any wording requiring auto insurance rates to go down if the bill were to pass. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau says it does nothing for drivers…
A cloud of Saharan dust is crossing the Atlantic and is set to arrive in Louisiana by Wednesday bringing with it more COVID-19 concerns. The dust consists of tiny mineral rock particles from Africa. While it can produce vivid sunsets, the head of environmental sciences at LSU Health New Orleans, Dr. James Diaz, says it poses a risk to those with underlying health conditions. Those with asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis, and heart conditions should be most cautious. Diaz says the dust can also impact pollen allergy sufferers and possibly increase the transmission of COVID-19. Diaz says the best defense is keeping tabs on air quality alerts and staying indoors or be ready with a face covering if you do have to be outside.
Saturday was the first day of early voting for the July 11th Presidential Preference Primary and election officials say they’ve already received 48-thousand mail-in ballots. Anyone who is at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, caring for a high-risk person, or experiencing COVID symptoms, can also request an absentee ballot. Louisiana’s presidential primary is not the only item on the ballot for the July 11th. There are also local races in 24 parishes and party committee positions. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says more than 116-thousand absentee ballots have been requested.
Several oil and gas service businesses in Louisiana have filed for bankruptcy protection in recent weeks amid an economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and low crude oil prices. Two businesses near Lafayette, one in Houma and another in Kenner filed for bankruptcy, all of which appear to be oil and gas services companies. Dozens more Louisiana businesses are owed money by the companies filing for bankruptcy. In recent weeks, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association has said about half its 460 member companies have told the organization that bankruptcy was on the table as an option to survive the economic downturn.
The Department of Health is aiming to prevent crisis situations with the launch of the Behavioral Health Recovery Outreach Line. Assistant secretary of the Office of Behavioral Health Karen Stubbs says the hotline model is one that has proven to be an effective resource for those with mental health disorders. Calls received range from those having a tough day to those self-identifying the warning signs of mental or emotional changes. The phone number is 1-833-333-1132.
Southern University has canceled its first two football games of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So the Jaguars’ first regular-season game is September 19th at Alabama A-and-M. Southern is still scheduled to wrap up the regular season versus Grambling in the Bayou Classic, but the venue is to be determined as the Superdome might not host the game this year.
NASCAR is working with law enforcement to try and figure out who hung a noose in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace at the Talladega Speedway in Alabama. Wallace, who is NASCAR’s lone full-time driver, reportedly never saw the noose. NASCAR said in a statement that they are angry and outraged over the heinous act. Wallace says this will not break him and before today’s race, the entire NASCAR garage pushed Wallace’s number 43 car to the front of the grid in a show solidarity with the Alabama native.
Webb Simpson was the winner at the R-B-C Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Simpson shot a seven-under 64 to defeat Abraham Ancer by one shot. It’s the second victory on the tour this year and Simpson now ranks fifth in the world.
In NFL news, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has officially signed his 31-million dollar franchise tag tender. Dallas and Prescott have until July 15th to reach a long-term deal. If not he’ll make 31-million dollars this season if they play 16 games.