Mar 172020
 

Novel coronavirus (via www.cdc.gov)

Monday saw the city’s third death of the coronavirus, an 84-year-old resident of the Lambeth House retirement home Uptown, and aggressive measures  on the state and city level to prevent the spread of the disease.

Louisiana is among country’s highest per capita rates of COVID-19 infection, with 136 cases as of Tuesday morning, and New Orleans is the epicenter, with 94 presumptive positive cases.

On Monday afternoon, following a conference call with the White House, Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered all bars, movie theaters and casinos closed and banned on-site eating in restaurants, restricting them to take-out, drive-through and delivery orders only.

The proclamation also limited all gatherings to no more than 50 people. The legislative session is suspended until at least March 31. The restrictions take effect today and will be re-evaluated on April 6.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell took the restrictions a step further. “Our rules in New Orleans will in some cases be going further than what the state has announced. We are facing the most widespread impacts from this crisis here in Orleans, and our response must be that much more urgent,” she said.

Among those steps, Mayor Cantrell filed a proclamation that called for several actions that, among other measures, limit public gatherings altogether, without a hard number on the size. The federal govn has recommended “We encourage people to limit the size of any gathering to no larger than that of a household,” she said.

In addition to all bars and entertainment venues, the mayor closed the Fair Grounds, gyms and health clubs. Whether a business is restaurant, which can stay open for take-out, or a bar that serves food incidentally, which must close, is determined by the license on file with the city.

All businesses are asked to scale down operations to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Essential services — specifically health care providers, groceries, pharmacies, banks and gas stations — are asked to remain open.

All private businesses and residents are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility. “The importance of social distancing cannot be overstated,” Mayor Cantrell said. “It’s how we slow the spread, which is the top priority right now.”

The city issued the following information on finding resources during the public health crisis:

Residents are encouraged to make sure they are getting accurate information from reliable sources, including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Louisiana Department of Health, and here in New Orleans, at NOLA Ready. Text COVIDNOLA to 888777, follow NOLA Ready on social media @NOLAReady, or go to ready.nola.gov for updates.

RESOURCES

The Mayor’s Office of Community Development has partnered with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Total Community Action and New Orleans Family Justice Alliance to provide immediate financial and legal assistance for homelessness prevention which includes rental assistance and foreclosure mitigation. Inquiries should be made to the Office of Community Development at (504) 658 4200.

HOUSING

In response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) state of emergency and to reduce the spread of the virus, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) has implemented several emergency policies that will affect Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Public Housing program participants. They include:

General Public and Vendor/Landlord Access

  • Access to HANO Administration and HCVP buildings is restricted. The office is closed to the general public until further notice. However, program participants and stakeholders will be able to drop-off documents at a designated entrance (Senate Street).
  • The agency will maintain contact with the general public via phone, email, website and social media posting.
  • Informational signage is currently posted on both buildings, indicating the various methods of contact currently available.

Public Meetings

All public meetings including the HANO Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for March 24 have been canceled.

HCV and Public Housing Annual Reexamination | HCV Voucher and Contract Issuance

In-person program compliance interviews have been canceled until further notice.

The following methods of communication will be utilized to conduct pertinent HCV and Public Housing business:

  • HANO will mail or email HCV and Public Housing annual reexamination packets and conduct phone interviews when necessary.
  • DocuSign services will be utilized for HCV voucher issuance and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract issuance.

Read the news release here.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

For Employers

The City of New Orleans strongly encourages any employer who is able to do so to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Paid sick leave is the best way to enable social distancing, which is critical in our response to this public health emergency.

Unemployment Insurance Information

If you are temporarily closing or reducing your hours of operations due to COVID-19, please contact the LWC to discuss how they can provide assistance and answer your questions about unemployment insurance and other programs and resources available. Contact LWC at EmployerServices@lwc.la.gov with your unemployment insurance questions. Be sure to provide your company’s name, a point of contact, telephone number and email address, as well as specifics on the assistance you are requesting. The Employer Call Center, 225-326-6999, is also available. Go to: http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/PR/COVID_19_Information.pdf.

Small Business Administration Resources

The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, in conjunction with the City’s Economic Development Office has identified businesses with uninsured losses and asked the State to request Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration. Once approved, eligible businesses will be able to apply to the Small Business Administration for low-interest, fixed-rate loans that can assist businesses in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Check NOLA Ready for updates: https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/resources/.

Financial Assistance

The City is also working with partners on developing additional financial resources for small business owners that are expected to be announced in the coming days.

For Workers

If you are sick, and are able, please stay home, call your primary care doctor or, if you don’t have a primary care doctor, call the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652. If you are severely ill and you think you need hospitalization, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.

Unemployment Insurance Information

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has released information for workers in Louisiana who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Those who are eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits will also qualify for SNAP benefits.

As a worker, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance if:

  • Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to coronavirus.
  • Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
  • You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.

If any of these situations apply to you, you can file a claim for unemployment insurance by visiting https://www.louisianaworks.net/hire/vosnet/Default.aspx or calling 866-783-5567. Be sure to answer “yes” to the question, “Are you filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 ?” This will provide needed information to the LWC to help process your claim.

More information is available here: http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/PR/COVID_19_Information.pdf

Gig Economy Workers Fund

The New Orleans Business Alliance has launched a relief fund to meet the needs of gig economy workers who have been directly impacted via loss of income. Learn more and apply via this link: https://www.nolaba.org/relief-fund/.

Additional Resources for Workers

The City is pursuing other resources to support our local workforce. Check NOLA READY for updates here.

SCHOOLS

Today, Monday, March 16 a total of eight school sites started food nutrition service across New Orleans serving approximately 2,500 meals to public school students. By March 18, no less than 32 sites across the city will be operational.

NOLA-PS, in collaboration with charter school leaders and the Mayor’s agencies, is coordinating a multi-pronged effort to ensure child nutrition services are available to families during the prolonged school closure. NOLA-PS anticipates a citywide child nutrition program to be available to families by March 23.

Specifically, NOLA-PS asks that the following information continue to be shared publicly:

Families wishing to access information on where child nutrition resources should visit the District’s webpage which is being updated as more access points become available. This webpage has the most up-to-date listing of where food services are available. That webpage is located at https://nolapublicschools.com/covid19/nutrition.

Eligible families who are unable to access food resources this week should call United Way’s 211 information system which has the latest information about finding the Second Harvest food pantry nearest you. If you’re in Orleans Parish, dial 211 for assistance.

Key details on students accessing child nutrition are:

  • Students DO NOT need to be present to receive meals. Parents or caregivers may pick up meals on behalf of the students within their household.
  • Child nutrition resources are available to those under 18 years of age and those who currently attend a public school.
  • Students who are over 18 years of age and are currently enrolled in public schools will also be allowed to access the community feeding programming. Schools will be contacting those families directly to ensure they are aware of the services available to them. 

DRINKING WATER

As the City of New Orleans continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City assures residents that our city’s tap water is safe to drink and well-protected against viral contamination. Protecting the health and safety of our city remains the top priority of the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO). The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and is highly susceptible to standard disinfection and treatment processes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Therefore, the risk it poses to water supplies is low.

Read the news release here.

NEW ORLEANS RECREATION DEVELOPMENT (NORD) COMMISSION

Second Harvest Food Bank is providing meals at NORD recreation centers beginning tomorrow evening, March 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sites include all rec centers except Annunciation Rec Center locate at 800 Race St. The nearest rec center providing meals to Annunciation is Lyons Rec Center, 624 Louisiana Ave.

Also, while all NORD facilities and recreation centers are closed for recreational use (virtually all of which is indoors and includes swimming pools), NORD tennis facilities at Joe W. Brown (5601 Read Blvd.) and Atkinson Stern (4025 S. Saratoga St.) were opened beginning today. Tennis facilities will operate with the following restrictions:

  • Club houses will be closed to the public
  • Showers will be inaccessible
  • Limit entrance to 50 patrons at one time

TRANSPORTATION

New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA)

Saturday service has reduced frequencies system-wide during peak hours and reduced frequencies during off-peak hours on some lines. Late evening and overnight service is largely unchanged. People will still be able to get to work since all lines will still operate and every neighborhood will be continue to be served. However, we recommend everyone double check the Saturday schedule for the time that best corresponds to the weekday trip you usually take.

Also consider these useful links:

 

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