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.

City offers program for youth to learn civic leadership

via the City of New Orleans

The Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, would like to invite you to participate in Junior Civic Leadership Academy (JCLA). This initiative from Mayor LaToya Cantrell is an engaging 8-week program that will provide youth with an in-depth look at city government. JCLA will meet virtually every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. starting June 6 through August 1 (excluding July 4). Enrollment opens today (April 27), and applications are available online. The program includes hands-on demonstrations and presentations that give participants an insider’s view of how the City of New Orleans operates.

Mobile COVID-19 testing kicks off at Xavier University

Xavier University is the first site in a campaign bring COVID-19 testing to medically vulnerable communities. Walk-up testing will be available at Xavier from Tuesday (April 21) through Friday of this week. LCMC Health, the New Orleans Health Department and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center will be conducting a mobile testing campaign for COVID-19 across the metro area over the coming weeks. At a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department, urged residents of the Xavier neighborhoods such as Gert Town, Hollygrove and Dixon to take advantage of the testing this week. To be eligible for testing, you must be 18 years of age or older and either recently exposed to COVID-19 or recently showing symptoms of the virus.

Banks, Giarrusso set up food distribution sites

District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso and District B Councilman Jay Banks are holding weekly food distribution events for those who find themselves in financial straits because of the pandemic. Giarrusso is teaming up with state Rep. Mandie Landry, District 91, and Second Harvest Food Bank to give out food on Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon in front of the Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School at 2901 S. Carrollton Ave. To sign up to volunteer or to get more information, contact Claire.Byun@nola.gov.

The District B food giveaway is hosted by Banks with assistance from Goodwill Industries, Second Harvest Food Bank, Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership Development) and Culture Aid NOLA. It’s held at the Goodwill store at Tulane Avenue and Jefferson Davis Parkway on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until supplies run out. For more information or to volunteer, call 504-658-1020.

Council seeks public input on Carnival safety

The coronavirus restrictions prevented the City Council from holding a hearing on Carnival safety planned for the March meeting of the Emergency Preparedness and Cybersecurity Special Committee, established in response to multiple tragic events that occurred in the past year. District D Councilman Jared Brossett, the committee’s chairman, has released the following statement seeking public input:

“I was looking forward to hearing from the public and Mardi Gras krewes on how we can make Mardi Gras safer for all who share in this annual tradition. I value your input and believe that success depends on us working together. “Since we are unable to meet in-person at this time, the Council wants to invite the public to submit written comments via email for safety improvements you believe the Council should consider. All written comments submitted to the Council via email by May 1st will be shared with Mayor Cantrell’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council.

City Council launches ‘SewDat’ website to centralize mask donations, resources

From the New Orleans City Council

The New Orleans City Council has partnered with the Mayor’s Office and the City’s Department of Health to launch a centralized website for resources and donations for cloth face coverings called “SewDat.” The website provides a location where citizens, nonprofits and businesses can donate cloth face coverings to non-medical, essential employees at grocery stores, restaurants, bus and taxi drivers, volunteers staffing food pantries, and meal distribution centers. In addition, the website will offer a place for residents to purchase cloth face coverings, limiting competition for N95 and surgical masks, which are in high demand and short supply for health care professionals and other first-responders in Louisiana. The website will also provide instructions to residents interested in sewing or creating a mask with supplies at home. SewDat.com has a list of local businesses and individuals selling face coverings to the general public.