Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order today that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday (March 23) to further fight the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, as the number of confirmed cases have topped 800 and spread to more than half of of the state’s parishes. “In Louisiana we have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve; however, this is not enough. As our number of cases continue to grow, I am directing all Louisianans to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave,” Edwards said. The stay-at-home order follows similar guidelines to the order issued by Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Friday. The cases of COVID‑19 in New Orleans on Sunday climbed to 451, with 15 resulting in death.
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor LaToya Cantrell are being too soft on New Orleans. With the number of confirmed cases and deaths skyrocketing, our elected officials don’t have the luxury of merely suggesting that people stay home as much as possible. Some form of sheltering in place must become the law of the land if we don’t want martial law and the additional restrictions it will bring. Though it might sound extreme, sheltering in place slowed the virus in China and is currently being implemented in Italy, Spain, Belgium and France. The Ukraine has shut down all transportation.
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.
It’s no secret that the New Orleans Fire Department has been understaffed and underfunded for far more than a decade. The city has consistently told firefighters that they should be good soldiers and wait their turn. But their turn has never come. Firefighters are asking — if not now, when? Instead of having the city attorney schedule a negotiating session to discuss outstanding issues, Mayor LaToya Cantrell cancelled all leave and vacation time, in an effort to force firefighters to work extra shifts during Mardi Gras season.
Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking,” commemorated 10 years without any executions in Louisiana — the longest such period in the state’s history — at a “Vigil for Life” ceremony in New Orleans on Jan. 7. Louisiana has executed 28 individuals since 1976. The 28th was Gerald Bordelon, 47, a Livingston Parish man sentenced to death for the murder of Courtney LeBlanc, his 12-year-old stepdaughter. He was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 6:32 p.m. on Jan.
To combat the taxing of menstrual products, the national Tampon Tax Protest Tour for menstrual equity will make its New Orleans stop on Tulane University’s campus today (Nov. 22). “Recognizing that taxes on menstrual products are discriminatory and illegal,” organizers said, “New Orleans will be part of a collective action against taxing these products, which, along with diapers, are currently taxed by the State of Louisiana.” The protest is part of a national effort called Tax Free. Period, organized by LOLA, a “lifelong brand for a woman’s body,” and Period Equity, a law and policy organization fighting for menstrual equity.
State Rep. Royce Duplessis, who represents House District 93, visited the Lower Garden District Association meeting on Monday for a question-and-answer session. District 93 includes parts of the Lower Garden District and Central City, where he lives. The election ended on Saturday for the voters, but it’s only just begun for legislators, who are now all vying for key committee positions. Duplessis said he’s working toward a spot on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. Duplessis took Helena Moreno’s legislative seat in May 2018 after emerging victorious from a special primary election to replace Morena, who had been elected to her City Council at-large position.
To cinch her victory in the District 98 runoff on Saturday, Aimee Adatto Freeman consolidated her base in the Audubon and university-area neighborhoods to sweep every precinct between Jefferson and Carrollton avenues. District-wide, Freeman won 42 precincts on Saturday to Kea Sherman’s 10. Freeman won all but one of the 37 where she had placed first in October’s crowded six-person primary, adding five where Carlos Zervigon had led and one where Ravi Sangisetty had placed first. Sherman held on to all six of those where she led in the primary in Freret and west Carrollton, and added four more nearby: two where Zervigon had led, one of Sangisetty’s, and one where Freeman had led in October. The bellwether precinct — where Freeman won 57.8 percent of the vote, most similar to her total across the district — was Ward 13 Precinct 15 in Broadmoor (along Claiborne between Jefferson and Napoleon).
The October primary for the District 91 seat in the state House of Representatives was nearly a three-way tie in votes cast between Robert McKnight, Mandie Landry and third-place finisher Carling Dinkler. To secure her victory in the runoff Saturday night, Landry picked up nearly every precinct where Dinkler had led — ultimately holding McKnight to the same number of precincts where he led in the primary. In October, McKnight led in 23 precincts of the district’s 53 voting precincts. Dinkler led in 17; Landry led in 12 and Dinkler and Landry tied exactly in one. On Saturday, Landry won 30 of the 53.
Political newcomers Mandie Landry and Aimee Adatto Freeman will join newly re-elected Gov. John Bel Edwards in Baton Rouge next year, after each won competitive runoffs Saturday to represent Uptown New Orleans in the state House of Representatives. Landry, a lawyer who has represented pro-choice advocacy groups, won 53 percent of the vote in District 91 in the runoff against fellow lawyer Robert McKnight, an attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders. District 91 — held by term-limited State Rep. Walt Leger — represents a ribbon of Uptown that stretches from Hollygrove and Gert Town down through parts of Central City and Milan to the Irish Channel and Lower Garden District. Freeman, an adjunct professor at Tulane University’s business school, won 57 percent of the vote in District 98 over Kea Sherman, a small-business attorney. District 98 — held by state Rep. Neil Abramson, who is also term-limited — is nestled in the Riverbend roughly between the Jefferson Parish line and Napoleon Avenue, and including the Carrollton, Broadmoor, Audubon, University and Freret neighborhoods.