As COVID-19 continues to impact the City of New Orleans, many small businesses have been forced to close altogether or adapt in ways they would never have imagined just a couple months ago. For Simply Dispensary, a local wellness products retailer with locations Uptown, in Mid-City, in the Marigny, and on the West Bank, that meant transitioning into a completely new industry in just a matter of weeks.
Since the beginning of March, Simply Dispensary has harnessed its relationships with suppliers and manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad to provide much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and hard-to-find supplies—hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and 3-ply disposable face masks—to restaurants, convenience stores, and other businesses. “When it comes down to it, we are in the business of selling wellness products,” said co-owner and general manager Sean Partridge. “As this outbreak started affecting our city and the people we care about, and you can’t find the supplies you need to stay safe and well anywhere, we knew we had to start offering these products ourselves.” By mid-March, when the City of New Orleans announced the stay-at-home order, Simply Dispensary had already brought in inventory of hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and hand soap.
Armed with the ruling yesterday (Aug. 5) by U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, which returned control of the Orleans Justice Center to Sheriff Marlin Gusman, the sheriff said he is moving ahead with his push to build a new facility to house inmates with severe health and mental health needs and to repurpose Templeman V as a temporary facility for COVID-19 inmates. “I’m trying to save lives,” said Sheriff Marlin Gusman after Wednesday’s ruling, as he discussed plans for new or repurposed health facilities for prisoners.
Court-appointed monitors reported in July that the OPSO was in partial or substantial compliance with the majority of federal reform provisions. Though Judge Africk returned control of the Orleans Justice Center to Gusman, the consent decree continues.
On Wednesday, Gusman said his immediate concern is containing the spread of the coronavirus within the prison walls. “NOPD officers are bringing known COVID-19 positive patients to the Orleans Justice Center,” Gusman said.
The following “Open Letter to NOLA” was posted on social media by Eric Cook, the owner and executive chef of Gris-Gris, a restaurant on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District. It was addressed to “our friends, neighbors and family” and is published here with permission. As you know, we’ve been trying to fight the good fight through the past few months. Gris-Gris was one of the first restaurants to shut down when this whole thing began. We’ve been trying to keep everyone safe and do our best to keep our little corner of Magazine Street alive and well so we can keep doing what we love, and bring love to you guys every single day.
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.
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.
Property Management and COVID-19: New Orleans Real Estate Expert Breaks It Down
Landlords and tenants across the nation are facing unprecedented circumstances as COVID-19 continues to pose some uncertainty across the rental housing market. As U.S. households feel the financial strain brought on by the pandemic, residential and commercial landlords are working hard to accommodate these challenges. For many, sudden financial losses and the difficulties of relocating safely have become an all too real and challenging prospect. For property managers, a shift in strategy is necessary to balance compassion for those with newfound financial issues, while also supporting their clients and delivering ROI on their investments. Through the first two weeks of June, we’ve seen 26 multi-family homes in Orleans Parish get to closing, projecting to 52 closings for the month.
As America come to grips with the inequities that have held back our country and many of its citizens, individuals, educational institutions and businesses large and small are beginning to envision what they can do to help right historic wrongs and build a more vibrant economy. Visionary leaders like Michael Fitts, president of Tulane University, have stepped up with promises of scholarships and meaningful programs. Late last week, Fitts and his wife agreed to donate $100,000, a little less than 10% of his annual salary, to fund scholarships for students who show leadership in racial equity and diversity activities. Fitts also pledged that Tulane would take transparent, measurable steps to further anti-racist goals including a race equity education initiative, develop a new hiring and management strategy aimed at the recruitment and retention of minority faculty members and establish a Health Equity Institute. On the national level, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin recently unveiled a $120 million gift to two historically black universities and their parent organization, which is headed by former Dillard University President Dr. Michael Lomax. St.
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.
DePaul Community Health Centers, formerly known as Daughters of Charity Health Centers, are offering free COVID 19 and antibody tests at nine of their 10 locations in metro New Orleans. DePaul is working in partnership with Louisiana Health Care Connections and Quest Diagnostics to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals in under-served communities. Tests available include the COVID 19 PCR test, which will confirm an active virus, and the COVID 19 IgG serology test, which will identify a previous infection. Though free PCR tests are offered at several locations across the city, DePaul is currently the only provider of free antibody testing. Because I might have contracted the virus before Mardi Gras, I signed up for the serology blood test at the DePaul Uptown campus, 3201 S. Carrollton Ave. I had previously tested negative for the virus. The health center’s attending physician, Dr. Frank Pascualin DePaula, provided clear and concise information about the antibody test and its benefits.
The Audubon Zoo reopened to the public on Wednesday, June 3. Zoo visits, however, are now a little different than in the past. All visitors will follow a one-way trail through almost all of the zoo to see many of their favorite animals and wildlife habitats. The interactive and indoor exhibits remain closed. Due to state and city reopening guidelines, all zoo admissions, including member admission, must be reserved online in advance for a specific date and entry time.
With all the rain we’ve had recently and Monday’s official start of hurricane season, I spent time yesterday ensuring my closest catch basin is in good working condition. After all, New Orleans is a city that floods, especially during hurricane season. With this year’s ongoing pandemic along with predictions of even more storms than usual, getting prepared for the inevitable deluge and updating our personal evacuation plan are especially vital. Weaker trade winds and warmer than normal ocean temperatures might be the official reasons that the National Hurricane Center expects 13 to 19 named storms and three to six Category 3 or greater hurricanes this year. Yet we can’t forget the impact of weather disasters farther up the Mississippi River or the impact of a storm that sits above our city for days at a time.