News for Monday June 22nd 2020
Compiled By Dave Graichen
Louisiana health officials reported nearly 400 more cases of coronavirus on Sunday and an additional 15 hospitalizations. The 393 additional cases are down from the past few days, though fewer tests results were reported Sunday. One new confirmed death was reported, bringing the state's total to 2,993.
A Sports Illustrated report says at least 30 LSU football players have been isolated after they either tested positive for COVID-19 or had contact with players who tested positive. Some of the quarantined players admitted they visited nightclubs near LSU’s campus, which has been the source for over 100 new cases. LSU says the players who have tested positive are showing minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. Tiger Rag Editor Ron Higgins says numerous other schools have also reported multiple players testing positive for COVID-19. Three Ragin Cajuns athletes have also tested positive, seven are in quarantine. The football season is still more than two months away and Higgins says schools will continue to make the effort to play football this year.
Governor Edwards is expected to announce whether or not the state will move into Phase Three this afternoon. Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Travis Scott says Edwards has a lot to consider given our new upward trajectory of case growth and the face that a majority of the state’s health regions are seeing a growth in new cases. The good news.. even with the recent spike over the past ten days Scott says we’re still nowhere close to overtopping our healthcare capacity.
State education leaders are finalizing guidelines for the reopening of public schools amid thorny questions on whether students will be expected to wear face masks, ways to avoid crowded school buses and how many skittish families will opt for distance learning over traditional classrooms. Some schools resume classes Aug. 6, and earlier in districts offering remedial work because of the sudden shutdown in March. Cade Brumley, state superintendent of education, said Friday exactly what schools will look like this time depends on what phase the state is in for combating the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey of southerners shows while nearly all whites have heard news about blacks being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the majority don’t believe it.
GBAO Strategies Pollster Jim Gerstein says over 75% of white respondents reported being previously told by media that blacks suffered disproportionately from the disease, but that they don’t believe it. In Louisiana, 53 percent of COVID deaths have been African Americans, who make up just 32 percent of the population. The survey was conducted during a seven day period starting the day after the death of George Floyd and was created by E Pluribus Unum.
Early voting is underway for the presidential primary election. The voting experience will be different because of COVID-19. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin encourages voters to practice social distancing while at the polls and while mask-wearing is not mandated, it will be encouraged. Only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary and registered Democrats in the Democratic presidential primary. Ardoin says in addition to the presidential primary, voters in 24 parishes will have local items on their ballot. For those that qualify for vote by mail, the cut off to request an absentee ballot is July 7th.
Governor Edwards is highly encouraging residents to fill out their 2020 census if you haven’t already. The census only happens once every ten years, so Edwards stresses the importance of getting it right. He says the census means more than just a headcount of the population as the data is used to determine the allocation of federal dollars for various programs. So far approximately 56 percent of residents have filled out their census compared to the average of 64 percent for the nation. Edwards says Louisiana is dead last among responses compared to other Deep South states. Collected data also feeds into the redistricting that takes place once every ten years.
Health officials in New Orleans have identified new clusters of COVID-19, tracing them to a graduation party and a large gathering at outside of an Orleans Parish bar. A number of how many are affected was not released. And in Baton Rouge an outbreak of more than 100 cases is linked to Tigerland bars and restaurants near the LSU campus. Officials encourage those who were in contact with the outbreaks to get tested and self-quarantine.
Louisiana health officials say about a third of the nursing homes in the state are not regularly testing their staff and residents. State health officer Doctor Jimmy Guidry says facilities who fail to follow the state’s testing guidelines could be hit with sanctions. Guidry says they are asking nursing homes to conduct weekly tests on all residents and staff if there are known COVID cases in the facility.
Union Tank Car announced late last week, due to current market conditions, their plans to reduce production by approximately 25 percent at its Alexandria manufacturing plant. The reduction here will also affect Union Tanks component facility in Sheldon, Texas. The change is expected to take effect in July.
Troy Middleton’s name has been removed from the LSU campus library following a unanimous decision by the board of supervisors. Middleton was a decorated World War Two general and LSU President who opposed efforts to allow blacks to attend the state’s flagship school during his tenure, and according to one board member allegedly did nothing to stop the beatings and harassment of school’s first black PhD student by white students. Former lawmaker Woody Jenkins spoke on behalf of the Middleton family, saying despite his views on race Middleton was a man students should be proud of. The library was named for Middleton in 1978 after his death.