LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette Consolidated Government will hold a COVID-19 press briefing at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, at city hall.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said that he spoke with the Lafayette Parish Medical Task Force this morning, which includes representatives from local health care stakeholders including Our Lady of Lourdes, Lafayette General Health, LHC Group, the Louisiana Department of Health Region 4 office and prominent local physicians.
Guillory said these local public health officials are as close to the situation on the ground in the parish as anyone can be.
He said that the taskforce wants reinforce the message that residents need to continue their efforts at social distancing, and preventative hygiene to sustain the current success in limiting the spread of virus here in Lafayette Parish.
He added that they strongly encourage citizens to use face coverings in situations where social distancing is not allowed or feasible.
"At the present time, we are no longer seeing evidence of community spread of the virus, but we are seeing clusters of cases in isolated work environments both here and in our neighboring parishes," said Guillory. "There is concern that these clusters could lead to broader outbreaks. We still have hundreds of COVID+ persons in our parish who are infectious."
Guillory said these include people who have tested positive as well as those who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic. As a result, he said residents still need to be diligent and vigilant as everyone prepares for Phase Two reopening.
"We all want things to return to normal. We all want to open everything up," said Guillory. "But we are not in a normal situation."
When asked where in the parish these clusters might be, Guillory deferred and said the questions should be answered by LDH Region 4 Director Dr. Tina Stefanski, who was not present at Tuesday's briefing.
Guillory also spoke about "hearing rumblings" about the New Orleans Saints, LSU Tigers and Ragin' Cajuns possibly playing games without fans in the stands as well as similar concerns with team sports at intramural, high school and recreational league levels.
Guillory said that LCG is grappling with the issues involved with opening local entertainment and sports venues, and is working through questions about how to hold safe concerts and festivals.
He added that there are substantial questions regarding liability of venues and businesses who depart substantially from federal and state health guidance.
"With legal liability, comes difficulty in securing insurance coverage, without which these venues cannot operate and mass public events simply can’t happen," said Guillory. "I am committed to keeping Lafayette Parish ahead of the curve in our efforts to fully and safely reopen our economy, including our sports and entertainment venues."
Guillory said that he is working to determine what protocols would be necessary to achieve this important goal for the economy.
Guillory also spoke about the decion last week from the Lafayette City and Parish Councils to make about $1 million in funds available to small businesses to help restart the local economy, put our people back to work and generate the sales tax revenue that allows government to operate.
He said that keeping these businesses going is critical to restarting the economy.
According to LCG, Lafayette Parish lost $1 million in sales tax revenue in March alone, and the forecast projects up to $10 million lost through the end of the year.
"Today, I sent a letter to Senate President Page Cortez, Speaker Clay Schexnayder and members of the joint legislative committee on the budget asking them to consider the importance of assistance to small biz from the $1.8 billion in coronavirus recovery funding provided to Louisiana from the federal government," said Guillory. "My thanks go to Senator Heather Cloud, a leading proponent of increased small businesses support, for reading my letter into the record during the meeting of the joint legislative committee on the budget this morning."
He added that the $1 million LCG is devoting to small businesses is simply not enough to meet the demand.
Guillory said that he is urging the legislature to significantly increase the proportion of funding that would be dedicated to small biz assist relative to the level of funding provided to government.
You can see Guillory letter to the legislature below.
On May 26, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 678 cases and 23 deaths in Lafayette Parish.
Across the state, LDH reported 38,054 confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the state. This includes 245 additional cases than were reported yesterday.
A total of 2,596 people have died of the disease in Louisiana. This includes 11 more deaths than were reported yesterday.
The LDH is reporting that 28,700 coronavirus patients are "presumed recovered" (updated weekly).
The LDH reports that 831 people are hospitalized and that 103 require ventilators.
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