News for Tuesday August 18th, 2020
Compiled by Dave Graichen
Louisiana coronavirus: 138,485 cases | 4,403 dead | 1,226 in hospital | 103,512 recovered.
Louisiana reports one of the lowest new COVID positive test totals in weeks at just 735 Monday. But there is some bad news, total hospitalizations rose by 30, a reversal of a weeks long trend of lowering numbers.
A federal judge in New Orleans denies a motion by several bar owners to block the enforcement of Governor Edwards’ order to close bars as a coronavirus spread mitigation effort. Bar owners had contested the order as unconstitutional for closing down certain businesses while letting others operate.
Our Lady of the Lake infectious disease expert Dr. Catherine O’Neal says it is not safe to have fall contact high school sports right now but says she is optimistic about college athletics. High school football is set to resume October 8th, but the LHSAA says the state will have to be in Phase Three.
In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, UL Lafayette, ULM, McNeese, Northwestern, and Southeastern all start back to class Monday. Nicholls and Grambling started last week. UL System President Jim Henderson says the initial outlook on class and campus operations seems promising.
Monday was the first day in pads for the LSU Tigers and we’ve also learned who they will face in the season opener. The defending national champs will kick-off the season at home against Mississippi State on September 26th. Interim LSU President Thomas Galligan said on Talk Louisiana that they hope Tiger Stadium can be 30 to 50-percent full, but for fans who do not have a game ticket, they will be discouraged from coming on campus.
The SWAC released its spring football schedule Monday. The season will begin February 27th as Southern will visit Alabama State and Grambling will take on Prairie View A-and-M. Southern and Grambling will face off on April 17th in the Bayou Classic and each team will play six conference games.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin proposed plan for the November 3rd Presidential election and December run-off scales-back eligibility for requesting an absentee ballot compared to the July and August elections. Ardoin says the plan has been tailored to work in Phase Two compared to the stay at home order. The plan would also increase the state’s early voting period to ten days versus seven and add an extra hour and a half to each day.
Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana head Jeff Albright says it may take a few years for the full impact of tort reform passed in the Legislature to be felt via lower auto insurance rates. Albright says Louisiana drivers make twice as many injury claims as the national average despite not have twice as many wrecks. Louisiana has the 2nd highest rates in the nation and is expected to rise to number one next year.
The Louisiana Farm Bureau and Progressive Insurance are cutting their auto insurance rates on the heels of a cut by the state's largest auto insurer, State Farm. Progressive Insurance Group expects to drop rates by 2.4% for new policies on August 21 and for any renewals on September 18. Louisiana Farm Bureau was approved to drop its rates by 7.5% for both new insurance policies and renewals on October 1.
The Louisiana Family Forum backs a request by Senator John Kennedy that Louisiana places of worship be deemed essential and have their capacity restrictions lifted.
President Gene Mills says religious leaders can be trusted to maintain a safe environment for worshipers without current capacity limitations. Churches are restricted to 50 percent capacity during Phase Two. Mills says lifting the current restrictions would help get more people back in their pre-COVID habit of going to church.
Legislators slam DeSoto and Red River Parish officials for not showing up to a hearing about claims made by those parishes that the Department of Health was reporting duplicate COVID case counts. Legislative Audit Advisory Councilmembers blasted the officials for making claims that were later debunked by the Legislative Auditor. LDH says there is evidence lists of infected people’s names in those areas had been disseminated as part of the effort to attack the department’s COVID case reporting. Officials called that a clear HIPPA violation.
The Saints have started practicing in pads as the season opener against Tampa Bay is less than three weeks away. New Orleans reported for training camp in late July, but used the last three weeks getting ready for physical contact. Quarterback Drew Brees believes they used the ramp-up time well.
By the end of the week there's a better than 50% chance two tropical cyclones will be in or around the Caribbean Sea, but it's too soon to know if either system will impact the Gulf Coast.