Free sandbags offered at Dryades YMCA

The New Orleans City Council is partnering with the Mayor’s Office to offer free sandbags to residents across the city to help them prepare for Tropical Storm Laura. There will be four distribution sites today (Tuesday, Aug. 25) until noon, including one in Central City. No documentation is required, and sandbags are limited to four per person. Bags will be distributed in Central City from 8 a.m. until noon at the Dryades YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

High demand expected for city’s free COVID-19 testing in Central City

The COVID-19 testing site Monday (July 6) was closed as soon as it opened at 8 a.m., with the last person to be tested already in the long line at Dillard University. Tests are limited to 150 a day. The free testing will be held Tuesday (July 7) and Wednesday in Central City at the YMCA, 2220 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The noninvasive nasal-swab tests will be provided through New Orleans East Hospital. Results are expected to be online or delivered in two to three days.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing held this week in Broadmoor, Lower Garden District

The city’s free walk-up testing for COVID-19 will be held in Broadmoor and the Lower Garden District this week. Anyone, with or without symptoms, is eligible to receive a test. No ID or health insurance is required. Testing at the Andrew Wilson Elementary School at 3617 Gen. Pershing St. in Broadmoor takes place Monday (June 29) and Tuesday (June 30) from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — or whenever tests run out.

Council members to give away 16,000 masks citywide on Saturday

The Councilmembers representing the city’s five districts — Joe Giarrusso, Jay H. Banks, Jared C. Brossett, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, and Cyndi Nguyen — will host a free citywide mask giveaway at 10 a.m. this Saturday, June 13. Uptown locations include the Notre Dame Seminary, 2901 S. Carrolton Ave., and Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St. The event is set to provide 16,000 face coverings to the public, many of which are washable and reusable, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This joint mask giveaway by the five District Councilmembers is their way of encouraging the wearing of masks or face coverings as the City of New Orleans continues its phased reopening. “As New Orleans works to reopen the doors for our local business, industries, and community organizations, many citizens still need face coverings or masks to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19,” said District D Councilman Jared Brossett in a statement.

Viewpoint: Workers required to take risks during pandemic deserve hazard pay

City Council President Jason Williams said last night that “all our essential workers deserve hazard pay during these unprecedented times. Everyone is singing the praises of our front line and thanking them for their sacrifice. They deserve more than just a pat on the back.”

In dozens of towns and cities across America, essential workers on the forefront of the pandemic are participating in protests, walk-outs and strikes to strengthen their demands for hazard duty pay and safer working conditions. Industries including food service, meat processing, retail, manufacturing, transportation and health care have been targeted by labor unions that view the pandemic as a unique opportunity to address core grievances. For more than three weeks, New Orleans sanitation workers who are contracted to Metro Services Group (also known as Metro Disposal) have been walking the picket line to press for more pay and personal protective equipment, or PPE.

RTA, NORD and libraries outline their Phase 1 reopening plans

New Orleans is embarking on the first week of Phase 1 in reopening the city as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives in the city and more than 2,000 deaths statewide. If you use public transit, the city’s recreational facilities or the public library, here’s what you can expect from those agencies during this initial phase. Regional Transit Authority
Beginning Sunday (May 17), the RTA returned to Saturday service on all bus and streetcar routes. The RTA also will go back to collecting fares as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the city. For more information regarding fares, visit www.RTAforward.org/fares-passes.

Central City church hosts two days of COVID-19 walk-up and drive-thru testing

Council members Helena Moreno, Jason Williams and Jay H. Banks are proud to announce mobile COVID-19 testing in Central City. The testing initiative is hosted by 12 Baptist churches throughout the city and held this week at New Hope on Rev. John Raphael Jr. Way. In partnership with the city of New Orleans, NOLA Ready and the New Orleans Health Department and Ochsner Health System, community drive-thru or walk-up testing will take place on Tuesday (May 5) and Wednesday (May 6) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the New Hope Baptist Church, 1807 Rev. John Raphael Jr. Way (formerly LaSalle Street). “Having testing easily accessible to those that are most likely to be impacted and who are less likely to be able to get to the other testing sites, just makes sense,” said District B’s Councilman Banks. “Throughout every crisis New Orleans has experienced, churches have been an anchor, and served as a beacon of hope.

Digital town hall to outline plans to revamp region’s transit system

A initiative to overhaul the region’s public transit system, called New Links, was at a crucial phase in February. It had released three comprehensive transportation concepts and was asking the public to weigh in. That public input would drive the final proposal, Regional Planning Commission officials said. When the COVID-19 emergency hit, the New Links team was in the middle of intense outreach at busy transit stops and community meetings. Social distancing put a stop to that outreach.