News for Thursday July 30th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
The state reported 69 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 3,769. Louisiana’s health department also reported 17-hundred new cases, but for the third time in four days, the state reported fewer COVID patients in the hospital. Here in Rapides Parish we say 31 news cases of the virus for a total of 2,817 The Parish also hit the Century Mark for fatalities with the report of 2 more deaths.
Sports Illustrated reports SEC Athletics Directors have agreed to join the Big Ten and PAC 12 in moving to a conference only schedule for the upcoming college football season. The plan is not set in stone yet though as school presidents must approve it. They are scheduled to meet virtually tomorrow to discuss the proposal.
Governor John Bel Edwards is calling on Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation to consider funding Louisiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in the current proposal for COVID-19 relief legislation. Edwards says if the fund gets to the point where it needs to borrow money from the feds, that borrowing is available interest free, but a mechanism has to be set up to pay it back. Under Louisiana law the Louisiana Workforce Commission must impose a surtax on businesses up to 30% on taxable payroll.
The state graduation rate declined from 81.4 percent for the class of 2018 to 80.1 percent for the class of 2019. New Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley says it’s a disappointing development after years of gains in the graduation rate. Louisiana high schools did graduate a record 42,650 students for the class of 2019. In some good news, the number of students graduating with college credit or industry credentials went up ten percent. Brumley says further increasing that number will be a focus during his tenure. Just over half of all students in the 2019 class graduated with college credits or credentials.
Business Facilities Magazine ranks Louisiana Economic Development’s FastStart program as the top workforce development program in the nation for the eleventh consecutive year. Executive Director of the FastStart program Paul Helton, says there is no secret to the success, they just produce results. The magazine also ranks Louisiana number one for best industrial electricity rates, New Orleans number one among logistics leaders, and the Port of South Louisiana number one for imports.
A Minden Senator is asking the Edwards administration to allow clergy members into healthcare facilities to tend to sick and/or dying patients. The current public health emergency bars family from entry, but Robert Mills says clergy should be considered mental health support personnel. This would include nursing homes, hospitals, and adult residential facilities. Mills says it’s not just a quality of life issue, but a quality of death issue for those with little time left.
The state Agriculture Department has received about 300 calls from Louisianans who’ve received mystery packages of seeds from China and Eastern Europe. Commissioner Mike Strain says it’s part of some kind of nationwide plot. He says the items come in marked a jewelry, ear buds or other small items. The fear is the seeds could be from an invasive species that could damage crops. If you get a package, do not open it and call the Ag department.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser says Louisianans are pouring into state parks in numbers never before seen. After breaking records earlier in the pandemic Nungesser is celebrating the fact that last weekend was the biggest attendance weekend in Louisiana State Park history. Attendance records were first recorded in 2008.
A mystery philanthropist makes a 20 million dollar donation to Xavier University, a historically black college in New Orleans. Xavier President Dr. Reynold Verret says representatives of the anonymous donor requested that the funds be used to create a tuition endowment. The Associated Press suggests the donation may have been made by MacKenzie Scott, the recently divorced former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron says he’s preparing his team for the season to start on time with the season opener in Tiger Stadium versus U-T-S-A on September 5th. Orgeron says if the schedule changes, they will not blink. Orgeron made the comments during a Facebook Live Interview with the Baton Rouge Rotary Club.
Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry says Zion Williamson will be a game-time decision tonight when New Orleans restarts its season versus Utah. Williamson practiced for the first time yesterday after leaving the NBA bubble to attend to a family emergency. Gentry says the team’s medical staff will determine if Williamson will play.
Saints players are getting tested this week for the coronavirus. The players will need to test negative for COVID-19 three times in a four-day period. If they do, they will undergo a physical this weekend. Even though there was no offseason conditioning program, Coach Sean Payton expects the players will be in great shape. Payton also says despite efforts to promote social distancing and wearing masks inside the team’s training facility, he expects there will be games that will not be played this season because of outbreaks that occur within a team.
The ACC has announced that its schools will play a 10-game conference schedule starting the week of September seven to 12. Notre Dame will be part of that conference schedule and will be eligible for the ACC Football Championship game. ACC schools can also play one non-conference game, but the game must be played at that school’s home state.