LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette Consolidated Government administration officials provided updates on the ongoing Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency in Lafayette Parish during a press conference on Wednesday.
LCG spokesperson Jamie Angelle said Lafayette Parish now has 20 cases of COVID-19, which is an increase of 8 cases since Tuesday. Those positive cases now include a UL Lafayette student.
Angelle said that out of the 91 people that showed up to the Cajundome for screening Wednesday, 41 were screened out and 50 were tested for COVID-19. He added that there have been a total of 588 tests administered so far.
Angelle said that after being asked if non-citizens could get tested that they will not accept a passport from their county of origin as a valid ID. Spanish language translation is now available upon request at the Cajundome screening site.
LCG is still asking residents to call ahead to 311 in order to find out if they should go to the Cajundome. There were 44 calls Wednesday questioning whether to get screened, 62 people were sent to the Cajundome, 44 sent to their primary care physician and 35 triaged for home care.
In addition to 311, LCG has set up an alternate line at (337) 534-TEST.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory announced changes to the list of essential business. Cell phone and wi-fi retail stores will now be able to reopen, but must follow the guidelines in place to maintain social distancing and other mitigation procedures. The stores are being allowed to reopen to help teachers and students with distance learning.
Guillory also announced at new site for residents and businesses suffering the financial effects of COVID-19 at www.Lafayette.org/COVID.
Guillory addressed the concerns that he has received about the financial impact on the local economy in the two weeks since extreme measures were taken by Gov. John Bel Edwards to reduce the spread of the virus by ordering the closure of non-essential businesses, especially in the service industry.
According to Guillory, there have been 3,400 unemployment claims filed during March 15-20. That's an estimated 3,500 claims in Lafayette Parish for 2020, which is almost double that for 2019 and far more than the drop in employment that resulted from the 2014 oil crash.
Guillory said that his administration expected that number to rise.
Guillory said that he was working closely with Gregg Gothreaux at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority to help offer those recently laid off and small and local businesses the help they need in order to get unemployment benefit resources.
A number of businesses that are currently hiring is being posted at www.Lafayette.org/COVID.
Guillory said that businesses and employers in the state will not be negatively impacted due to unemployment benefits paid as a result of COVID-19. He added that tax penalities will not be charged for unemployment payouts due to COVID-19.
"In many ways, the economic impacts of this public health emergency are just as devastating as the virus itself," said Guillory.
Guillory said that he was keeping an eye on the original 15-day window set forth to monitor the spread of the virus locally, but that because of the governor's amended executive order his administration is doing everything on their end to act in accordance with state law.
He added that they will make a decision on the timeline for the restrictions in place and will issue a clarifying order to address it as more details come in.
Dr. Tina Stefanski with the LA Dept. of Health then took to the podium to stat that there were now a total of 36 positive cases of COVID-19 in Acadiana. She said that there are still hundreds of labs with outstanding tests waiting for results.
Stefanski said that the results seen now are due to exposure from weeks ago and that test results take several days to return. She added that the number of positive cases will increase, but hopes that as people follow mitigation guidelines that those numbers will decrease.
Stefanski noted that there is clearly community spread in Lafayette Parish, meaning that there are confirmed cases of the virus where there is no link established for an individual's travel outside the area.
You can watch the full conference below: