News for Monday July 20th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Coronavirus in Louisiana: 91,706 cases | 3,433 dead | 1,469 in hospital | 53,288 recovered. Here in Rapides Parish we’ve had a total of 2,278 cases, an increase of 77 over the weekend. Also 2 more deaths were reported bringing the number to 85 dead.
Louisiana reported a weekend total of 3,116 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, pushing the state's coronavirus tally above 90,000. Louisiana has now reported a total of 91,706 cases and is considered by the White House to be a "red zone" state for increasing cases and the percentage of positives among tests. The state reported a two-day total of 56 new hospitalizations Sunday for a total of 1,469. Hospitalizations have more than doubled during the past month. Thirty-four new deaths were reported Sunday for a total of 3,433.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he will consider the implementation of new White House COVID-19 guidelines. Louisiana is one of 18 states in the red zone for cases and one of 11 in the red zone for testing positivity. Edwards feels the state already is covering the most prioritized spread mitigation efforts from the CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force. The recommendations call for red zone states like Louisiana to close gyms, put tighter restrictions on indoor dining capacity to 25%, and limit gatherings to 10 people.
Louisiana Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux says a CDC investigation into an incident in Missouri shows the effectiveness of masks. Health officials say two hairstylists tested positive for the coronavirus, but none of their 136 customers and co-workers got the virus, because everyone involved wore a mask. The two COVID positive workers had gotten tested for COVID, but went back to work while waiting for the results during this period. The hairstylists spent on average over 15 minutes within six feet of their customers, which is considered “close contact. Billioux says it’s a remarkable discovery…
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder is asking fellow Republicans to reconsider their efforts to revoke Gov. Edwards’ pandemic state of emergency, saying an override would be a “grave decision with potentially dire consequences.” Schexnayder sent a letter to Republican House members discouraging support of Shreveport GOP Rep. Alan Seabaugh petition. Schexnayder’s letter states both Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump administration supports the mask mandate.
After only four days, Louisiana had to shut down the $24 million program to help residents pay their rent after the program was inundated with applicants seeking aid amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program unveiled Thursday was expected to benefit about 10,000 residents by providing up to three months of direct payments to landlords of eligible tenants, but was soon hit with four times as many applications and had to be suspended. The housing advocacy group HousingLOUISIANA said the inundation of the program was to be expected, given an estimated 142,000 unemployed renters across the state who are in need of its services.
Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders are expected to discuss this week on a 5th coronavirus relief funding bill. Senator John Kennedy says it’s unclear what this round of aid may look like, but he doubts it will be as broad as past COVID stimulus bills. Kennedy says he’s concerned about the rate of spending on COVID economic bills and he says the only way for the economy to survive is for Americans to get back to work. Kennedy is also pushing school districts to resume in-person education once the fall semester begins. Kennedy says young people don’t often suffer fatal outcomes when they develop COVID-19. Kennedy says the rewards of continuing kids’ social and academic development outweigh the risks of having them more exposed to the virus.
The SEC announces that student-athletes who choose to not play sports in the fall due to COVID-19 concerns will not lose their scholarships. According to the statement released Friday, those who sit out will have their scholarships honored and will remain in good standing with their team. LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward also released a statement of support for the announcement and student-athletes’ in their decision if they choose to compete or not.
Baton Rouge Rep. Ted James announces his candidacy for chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Current party Chair Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator from New Orleans, says she will not seek reelection. James said the Democratic Party must speak for those who “feel invisible to the politics of today” to energize the party. Katie Bernhardt, a Lafayette small business owner, previously announced her candidacy. The chair is elected by party leadership and will be chosen August 29th.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is celebrating the tort reform legislation signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards that aims to lower auto insurance rates. LABI President Steven Waguespack says the measure will lead to lower claims, lower settlements, and lower insurance rates for commercial drivers. Waguespack says the history of high auto insurance rates has been devastating for Louisiana businesses.
Toward the middle or end of the week, the National Hurricane Center says there's a 20% chance a tropical wave could develop into a depression in the Gulf of Mexico.
Sunday’s update indicates that a tropical wave located over Hispaniola and the southwestern Atlantic is expected to enter the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by late Tuesday, move across the central Gulf on Wednesday and reach the northwestern Gulf on Thursday. By then, conditions are expected to be marginally conducive for development.