News for Tuesday July 7th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana adds just over 11-hundred new COVID-19 cases Monday. The state reports 44% of those cases are from people 29 and younger and 98% of the new cases are from community spread. Here in Rapides Parish we saw 11 new reported cases yesterday and one additional death. The daily percentage of positive tests statewide are currently at 9.84%.
The Rapides parish Police called off last nights meeting after an announcement earlier in the day that several jurors and essential staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 or are currently awaiting test results. An update is expected for the July 13 meeting as the Police Jury monitors and assesses the situation.
Federal judge Dee Drell ruled yesterday afternoon that the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria City Council must accommodate 4th district Councilman Harry Silver by allowing him to attend council meetings virtually. The decision comes after a Thursday virtual hearing in which attorneys for the 98-year-old Silver argued that he was being discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.
Silver has missed city council meetings since February due to shoulder surgery and the COVID-19 pandemic, of which he is highly susceptible to contracting due to his age and existing medical conditions. Judge Drell wrote in his 12-page ruling that “Mr. Silver seeks a reasonable accommodation,” and that his attendance “benefits the public’s interests.”
Due to COVID-19 four Office of Motor Vehicle locations will be closed to the public due to the positive testing of an employee. The offices are here in Alexandria, Lafayette, Monroe and Shreveport. Customers are encouraged to use the website expresslane.org for any services. These closures are in addition to previously closed offices.
An economist says an LSU football season without fans will cost the school and local economies millions of dollars. Financial statements indicate the LSU football team produced a profit of 57-million dollars for fiscal year 2019. Doctor Loren Scott says not having fans in the stands or no football at all, would severely impact the other sports at LSU as well. A rise in coronavirus cases is raising doubts the college football season will start on time. Major decisions are expected later this month from the leaders of the SEC and LSU regarding whether football will start Labor Day weekend and if there will be fans.
A Louisiana state senator has called for all athletic activities to be canceled for K through 12 public schools in Louisiana through December because of COVID-19.
Senator Cleo Fields, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, made the request in a letter sent to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Monday. Fields says the issue is “too critical” to leave up to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) to decide. BESE will meet July 14 to discuss emergency rules for the coming school year in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
State Farm will cut auto insurance rates in Louisiana by 9.6%, The rate cut has been approved by Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. State Farm, is considered the largest auto insurance company in the state when ranked by market share with nearly one-third of all policies. The rate reduction is set to go into effect August 24 for renewal and new policies. The reduction has nothing to do with the recently passed tort reform legislation.
In the tropics Edouard became a named storm, setting the record for the earliest formation of a fifth named storm of a season. State Climatologist Barry Keim says Louisiana is currently experiencing unstable weather influenced in part by another system that is moving over the Florida Panhandle. Keim says the pattern will be bringing rain to Louisiana over the next few days.
There was little action on police reform in the recent special session but reform advocates say that is not going to be the case in the fall or 2021 session. Baton Rouge Representative Ted James they will revive an effort to revoke qualified immunity for officers. He says the effort to allow cops to be held liable for misbehavior in civil court will be a major part of reform discussions. A push to end qualified immunity did not get out of committee in the recent session.
Yesterday we mentioned Casino’s in Louisiana have announced mass layoffs are coming. The L’Auberge casinos in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge are cutting more than 600 jobs between the two following the Covid pandemic. The Treasure Chest in Kenner is also reliving 340 people of their employment and Boomtown in Harvey is cutting right at 200 jobs.
Legislation is awaiting the Governor’s signature that would allow electric co-ops to create their own hi-speed internet networks in rural areas that lack broadband access.
If signed into law co-ops would be able to make broadband companies under separate entities from their current power companies so that utility funds were not used for internet service. The FCC has committed to spending over 20 billion dollars on expanding rural broadband.
The East Feliciana Police Jury has rejected a proposal to uproot a more than century-old statue of a Confederate soldier from its perch in front of the parish's antebellum courthouse and move it to a cemetery. Police jurors swept aside a resolution that sought to remove and potentially relocate the Confederate monument in a 5-3 decision at its Monday evening meeting, a vote that in ways mirrored the community's divide over the structure and its location.
The coronavirus is putting stress extra on relationships and many are calling it quits. In addition to family practice lawyers seeing an increase in business, the pandemic is also having another effect on divorces. Baton Rouge Attorney Nancy Sue Grégoire says those who were already in the process of a divorce before the pandemic began are having even more complications. Grégoire says the pandemic has caused many to lose their employment and healthcare and it is making the process of divorce even more difficult.
Plans are still on for LSU and Louisiana Tech to play each other in men’s basketball on November 24th at the CenturyLink Center. Officials announced Monday that tickets will go on sale for the game at 10 AM on Thursday.
The Pelicans have added depth as they prepare to leave for the NBA’s bubble in Orlando on Wednesday. Forward Sindarius Thornwell has inked a deal with New Orleans and he’ll serve as a substitute player. The 25-year-old last played in the NBA G League, averaging nine points, five rebounds and five assists for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
One of the state’s most successful high school football coaches is leaving the sidelines. Neville’s Mickey McCarty has accepted the job as the school’s principal and former St. Frederick head coach Jeff Tannehill will replace McCarty as the Tigers new head football coach. McCarty spent 18 years as Neville’s head coach, winning 197 games and four state championships. Tannehill, who is a Neville grad, led St. Fred’s to a state title game in 2013.
And big news out of the NFL today as the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes have reportedly agreed to a ten-year contract extension that will pay the superstar signal caller over 400-million dollars. Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs will be in the Dome on December 20th to the face the Saints.