LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette Consolidated Government held a media briefing on the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency on Monday, May 18.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said that the substantial jump in case numbers seen in Lafayette and surrounding parishes Monday was due to a reassignment of cases among parishes rather than a spike in new cases.
Guillory also said that hospitals in Lafayette are prepared to take care of non-covid patients and that both of the hospitals and the emergency rooms are safe environments.
Guillory gave more details on how he intends to use the Community Development Block Grant for Coronavirus that will be presented before the Lafayette City and Parish Councils on Tuesday.
LCG will establish a committee to review applications for the CDBG funds from qualifying local businesses
To be approved, LCG states that there are three criteria to receive the funds:
- All funds must go to low and moderate income recipients (federal requirement of the grant)
- Businesses closed by order of the government (more than a few of them are still closed)
- Businesses must be unable to otherwise access federal assistance
"By definition, these are low and moderate income, and minority-owned small businesses who have nowhere else to turn," said Guillory. "So, every dollar siphoned off from these purposes is a dollar taken away from a low and moderate income or minority-owned business with nowhere to turn, and given to entities who have lots of other options for funding."
Guillory said the funds are intended to go to low-income, minority businesses with nowhere else to go.
Guillory said that there were several ideas on where the CDBG funds could go, including the Cajundome. But, the Cajundome is a public entity that is eligible to receive additional funding from the city and parish councils and the state legislature. It can also write grants.
Guillory also said another idea was to give the CDBG funds to local non-profit organizations to help with the homeless population. However, Guillory said these non-profits already receive federal, state and local funding; can write grants and can raise money in the form of private donations. They can also get funding from larger, very well funded non-profits like United Way.
Guillory also pointed out that the state of Louisiana has begun funding an initiative to pay to house homeless individuals in hotels.
He also noted that the Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness had 60 people that it provided services to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he said that number is about 250. By comparison, he said there are 2,842 businesses that have been forced to close by the government in Lafayette Parish, which is more than 10 times that amount.
According to Catholic Charities of Acadiana, there are about 289 adults and 111 children experiencing homelessness that have been temporarily placed in Lafayette hotels due to lack of available emergency shelter beds.
On Tuesday, the Lafayette City and Parish Councils will meet after 5 p.m. for an emergency joint meeting on the ordinance which will amend the FY 19/20 operating budget of LCG by increasing revenues in the amount of $852,935 in CDBG-CV grant funds received from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and appropriating funds within the Community Development Department.
The ordinance will provide an intergovernmental agreement between LCG and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority for the qualification of business applicants for distribution of CDBG-CV grant funds for the purpose of creating and/or retaining jobs for low and moderate income individuals.
LEDA President & CEO Gregg Gothreaux also announced that it has committed to support the effort with a grant selection process and will commit $200,000 to supplement the CDBG-CV funds, which will now total more than $1 million.
The grant selection process will include a grant selection committee, which already includes for members: Willie Ledet, a long time leader in criminal justice; Heidi Melancon with the UL Lafayette Small Business Center; Franke Neuner, of the Neuner & Pate Law Firm; and Nathan Thorton, a small biz owner.
Louisiana Department of Health Region 4 Director Dr. Tina Stefanski spoke about how there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Acadiana area. She said LDG is monitoring this recent increase carefully.
Stefanski said this recent increase is due to outbreaks at three work sites that are not open to the public in Acadia and Lafayette Parishes. She added that LDH is working with these sites to prevent further spread of this illness.
On Monday, May 18, Lafayette Parish was reporting 598 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 8 more than were reported on Sunday. Deaths have remained at 23.
The number of presumed recovered coronavirus patients in Louisiana grew to 26,249 on Monday.
The Louisiana Department of Health updates its numbers each day at noon.
To see the latest from LDH and a breakdown of cases by parish, click here.
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