St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
April 28, 2020
3:00 P.M.

NEW FORMAT

I again remind you of the new page on the Parish website for COVID-19 information and updates (www.stmartinparish.net/coronavirus).

FUTURE REPORTS

As I previously advised, these public reports will be provided on a periodic basis as opposed to daily submissions. Of course, in the face of an important development on any issue of any nature, I will most assuredly promptly advise the public accordingly.

POSITIVE CASES FOR APRIL 28, 2020

The report from LDH for this date reflects that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State is 27,286 with 1,758 deaths. This represents, over a four-day period, a statewide increase of 1,146 positive tests and an increase of 98 deaths. The number of reported positive tests in surrounding areas also increased. The following is the count for our region:

  • Acadia Parish: 130 cases, 9 deaths
  • Calcasieu Parish: 369 cases, 27 deaths
  • Evangeline Parish: 45 cases, 0 deaths
  • Iberia Parish: 245 cases, 17 deaths
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 61 cases, 6 deaths
  • Lafayette Parish: 443 cases, 18 deaths
  • St. Landry Parish: 167 cases, 35 deaths
  • St. Martin Parish: 223 cases, 15 deaths
  • St. Mary Parish: 181 cases, 20 deaths
  • Vermilion Parish: 35 cases, 1 death

The total reported positive tests in the above Parishes is 1,859 which is an increase of only 82 cases in four days. The total deaths are 155 which is an increase of 20 over that period. For the benefit of Stephensville and Belle River, Assumption Parish (adjacent to Belle River) has 175 positive tests and 3 reported deaths, an increase of 9 positive tests and 1 increase in deaths.

These numbers are indeed encouraging. In my last report, the total increase in positive tests over a three-day period was 144 and the increase in deaths was 20. We experienced 62 less positive tests and the same number of deaths in the “one day greater” span of time. Hopefully, we will continue to see a decrease in the number of positive tests. However, as seen below, not all is good news since there still remains an increase in the number of positive tests.

GOVERNOR’S FAILURE TO RE-OPEN BUSINESSES

As most of you know by now, the Governor announced yesterday that his previously imposed Stay at Home Order would be extended to May 15, 2020. However, the Governor ONLY declared that:

  • Restaurants could permit patrons to receive food by take-out and consume same on an outdoor patio or similar area PROVIDED social distancing is practiced. Service by waiters/waitresses is not permitted. In short, a patron can order food via take-out and consume it on an outdoor patio. Of course, regular take-out orders, curbside delivery, and home delivery continues.
  • Stores in malls with no outdoor entrance may offer curbside retail.
  • AN EMPLOYEE OF ANY BUSINESS WHICH HAS DIRECT DEALING WITH A PATRON MUST WEAR A MASK.

Other than these minor modifications, NOTHING CHANGES REGARDING THE GOVERNOR’S PRIOR STAY AT HOME ORDERS EXCEPT THAT IT HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO MAY 15, 2020. The actual written order has not yet been prepared, and when it is, I will outline it and publish same.

The action of the Governor in not initiating a Phase I re-opening was based upon the failure of the State of Louisiana to meet the three “Gating Criteria” established by the CDC, and endorsed by the President Trump, for what is referred to as a “Phase I” re-opening. The State satisfied two of the criteria but fell short on the third criterion:

  • A downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period OR
  • A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of the total tests within a 14-day period.

Noteworthy is that the Acadiana region failed to meet this requirement. Similarly, Region 2 (Baton Rouge), Region 8 (Monroe), and Region 9 (Northshore) also failed to meet this mandate.

I am acutely aware that many people have challenged the wisdom of the Governor’s decision. I fully understand their concerns, and in many respects, I embrace them as well. However, there still remains the issue with our region’s failure to meet the criterion in question. I believe that I would be remiss if I did not opine the we could have done a better job at adhering to the Stay at Home measures. Even more troublesome to me, however, is that if my opinion (and personal observations) are in error, then we should vigorously question why our documented cases of COVID-19 are still increasing while those in seven other LDH regions are not.

The fact that many of our businesses remain closed is a very serious matter and at this point, I will focus on several areas. First, I would like to have some clarification on the “numbers” for Region 4 (Acadiana). Second, an entreaty to the Governor for an earlier date of expiration for the Stay at Home order if there can be a demonstrated improvement of our numbers (over the requisite 14-day period) would not be imprudent. Finally, I do not hesitate to implore everyone to abide by the Stay at Home Order(s).

CLARIFICATION OF BUSINESS WHICH CAN BE OPEN

I continue to receive calls about what St. Martin Parish is doing relative to the “middle” businesses or “gray area” businesses being re-opened in St. Martin Parish. I commented upon this issue in my post of April 18, 2020, at which time I noted that those types of businesses have always been allowed to be open is St. Martin Parish. Note these statements from that post:

Please note that the category of businesses … has always been authorized to remain open in St. Martin Parish under the Governor’s Executive Orders 33 JBE 2020 and 41 JBE 2020. However, such operations must continue to meet three criteria: 1) social distancing must be practiced; 2) no more than 10 persons can be present in the business at any given time; and, 3) only workers who are necessary for the operation of the business can be present.

The right of the aforementioned category of businesses to be open has been discussed in my prior reports. I specifically reference my report of March 25, 2020. Furthermore, I have had follow-up observations about this issue in my reports of March 28th, March 30th, April 3rd, and April 6th. You may wish to review the outline in the March 25, 2020 post.

The action of the Governor yesterday has, unfortunately, added to the confusion. Thus, I have prepared a Facebook post/video wherein I discuss all of the foregoing in an effort to clarify this situation as much as possible.

PROTECTIVE MASKS

I recently reported that a national company has donated to St. Martin Parish Government a large number of masks. The dissemination of those masks has commenced, and the details are on this website for the distribution times and places.

I again applaud the methodical approach OEP has taken in this matter and their commitment to making sure there is a fair, reasonable, and cogent distribution of these masks.

HURRICANE PREPARATIONS

Parish Government is continuing to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. Additional issues which must be addressed as a consequence of COVID-19 include special spacing requirements at our designated evacuation centers as well as transportation issues. We will continue working with GOHSEP to make sure that these questions are addressed, and we are prepared to respond as circumstances may dictate.

PARISH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Yesterday, all Parish Government employees reported to work at their assigned locations. I still do not anticipate that our offices will be open to the public until, AT THE EARLIEST May 11, 2020. As I previously reported, the re-opening was pursuant to specific protocols designed to both protect our employees and to afford them a measure of comfort. When we reopen to the public, similar protocols will be established for those visiting our offices.

I again note that several factors were vetted by me in making the decision to reopen our offices at this time. First and foremost is that with protective measures in place, there should be no significant health risk presented. Also, I deem every single employee of the Parish as essential. If not, then there would be no reason to have the employee on the public payroll. Finally, it seems that the primary objective of the measures which have been imposed has been met-to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

PRIOR INFORMATION

The following information was contained in my report of April 18, 2020, April 21, 2020, and April 24, 2020, and is once more reproduced because of its import ESPECIALLY THE CENSUS REMINDER.

2020 CENSUS

You are reminded of the importance of completing the 2020 census. Indeed, a crisis such as the current one highlights the import of accurate census data which is a determinant for funding for schools, hospitals, nutrition, and health programs. Moreover, our representation in Congress is dependent upon an accurate census count. I understand that our response rate remains below that of the rest of the nation. Thus, please complete the census forms. Information regarding the census can be found on www.2020census.gov.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

I again invite, AND ENCOURAGE, everyone to visit the website designed and managed by Jennifer Stelly, the Executive Director of the St. Martin Parish Economic Development Authority: www.shopstmartinparish.com/covid-19-resources.  This site has a wealth of information about the many business opportunities afforded our local businesses as a result of the CARES Act.

Similarly, a complete listing of businesses and the services they offer during this COVID-19 crisis is available at: www.shopstmartinparish.com

I wish to extend my gratitude to Ms. Stelly for a job well done. SMEDA plays a vital role is attracting and promoting local businesses.