News for Friday March 13th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Five more people have presumptively been sickened by the new coronavirus in Louisiana, bringing the statewide total to 19.
As of Thursday evening, Louisiana had tested just 64 people for COVID-19, largely because of the paltry number of test kits provided to states by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yesterday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases acknowledged the government's efforts to track the virus are "failing." Many Louisianans, including medical professionals, are worried that the testing bottleneck is helping to mask a much wider spread of the coronavirus than has yet been reported. It should be noted, Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaking before State Lawmakers yesterday said he feels confident Louisiana has enough testing available in the state.
Louisiana Department of Health is now working with the statewide 211 network to answer questions about the coronavirus outbreak. Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary Alex Billioux says the 211 service is one of the most trusted points of information for the public when it comes to health and human services. (9)
LSU and Southern announces that all classes are now going online for the remainder of the spring semester as coronavirus fears worsen. The step follow similar announcements from Loyola, Tulane, and UNO. The move also affects UL Lafayette, LSU Shreveport, LSUE and LSUA
Rapides Parish Superintendent of Schools Jeff Powell released a statement regarding concerns over COVID-19, saying that as of now schools in the Parish are set to remain open.
Here in Cenla, word that tonight’s performance of the Harlem Globetrotters at the Rapides Parish Coliseum has been postponed. The Globetrotters encourage all ticket holders to hold on to tickets, as the team will make every effort to reschedule as soon as possible.
COVID-19 continues to dominate events at the Capitol, where the Governor hosted US Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Adams touched on whether or not Louisiana has enough testing kits, saying he thinks we’re fine. But Adams, along with Governor Edwards, stressed that unless you are showing symptoms, you should not try to get tested. After adjournment, the House Speaker had all members of the media, public, and House staff removed according to the AP to talk to House members about COVID-19 in private.
A contingency plan was reportedly discussed about Capitol operations and the session, a contingency that for now is on hold as the session is expected to continue despite the closures of Universities and the cancelations of events across the state. Members were told to stay at home if sick, wash their hands, and disinfect frequently.
Roughly 24,000 people were warned in mid-February they could lose Medicaid eligibility due to income requirements, with those cancelations set to happen mid-March right as COVID-19 is ramping up. Louisiana Budget Project Executive Director Jan Moller says it would be hard to find a worse time to kick people off of Medicaid. He’s calling for the program to freeze all coverage suspensions. LDH Health Secretary Stephen Russo told the advocate when asked about the topic that “there has not been any talk that we would delay any of that.”
In a bit of out of state COVID-19 Legislative news, the Georgia Legislature has decided to suspend their session after Friday.
All SEC sports events have been axed through March 30th. LSU Baseball coach Paul Mainieri says after the hard work being put in by everyone involved with the team, the timing is discouraging but says he’s explained to the players about putting this into perspective.
The NCAA announced the cancelation of March Madness, including the Women’s Final Four that was scheduled to take place in New Orleans. Governor John Bel Edwards says every Louisiana resident has a role to play in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus. Edwards says the virus can be spread by a person who doesn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms.
SWEPCO announces that an employee at their downtown Shreveport office has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is quarantined. The electric company says most of their downtown Shreveport office employees are working from home until further notice.
COVID-19 is provoking anxiety in many as the number of cases continues to grow internationally, and locally. LSU Health New Orleans professor of Clinical Psychology Michelle Moore says one way to reduce anxiety is to make sure that you are getting your news from a legitimate source. Moore says logging off of social media, for the time being, is another way to reduce anxiety.
Louisiana is restarting its stalled effort to replace its voting machines, with the solicitation for bidders expected to go out shortly. But, according to Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin, new machines won’t be in place quickly. Louisiana will continue casting ballots this fall on the same types of voting system that it has used for 15 years, without the paper backup advocated by many elections security experts. Allegations of improper bid handling derailed a previous effort to replace Louisiana’s voting machines, so the secretary of state’s office has had to redo its vendor search process.