St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
March 18, 2020
5:00 P.M.

Governor John Bel Edwards just held a joint news conference with Attorney General Jeff Landry which, in part, touched upon the validity of his Executive Orders imposing restrictions on various businesses and the legality of those constraints. Both his comments and those of Attorney General Landry serve as the springboard for this update.

Our Office of Emergency Preparedness has advised me that there has been substantial compliance with the remedial measures/restrictions which have been imposed by the Governor and St. Martin Parish relative to COVID-19. Unfortunately, there have been some isolated instances of noncompliance. In such situations, our law enforcement community has successfully handled those matters without incident.

I am fully cognizant of the sentiment that both the state, federal, and many local governments may have overreacted to COVID-19, and many of the restrictions are either unnecessary, illegal, politically motivated. However, any such thoughts must be balanced against the reasons for the measures (to protect our healthcare system from becoming overburdened) and the fact that they are based upon the advice of federal and state health officials. Hence, several critical points merit attention:

1. On March 11, 2020, Governor Edwards declared a Medical State of Emergency for the State of Louisiana, and on March 13, 2020, President Trump issued a Medical State of Emergency for the United States.

2. Governor Edwards has issued several Executive Orders pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, placing restrictions on our daily activities. Acting pursuant to that law, and to insure uniformity in the application of those measures, among other reasons, St. Martin Parish has issued a state of emergency declaration essentially adopting the mandatory statewide measures, with modifications for strictly local affairs.

3. The dictates of the Executive Orders are not aspirational; rather, they enjoy the full force and effect of law and are fully enforceable. The recently released comments by one official to the contrary are absolutely incorrect and patently unfair. Indeed, at the press this afternoon, Attorney General Landry publicly endorsed the validity of those proclamations.

Therefore, I request and encourage the citizens of this Parish to continue to fully comply with the restrictions which have been established by our federal, state, and local leaders. Those actions embrace steps which have been recommended by health officials throughout the United States. Let’s not emulate those jurisdictions which have ignored laws in favor of their personal opinions. Otherwise, we will have no rule of law and the efforts to retard the spread of COVID-19 will be severely impeded.

On a related note, I recently received a telephone call from Public Service Commissioner Craig Greene’s office advising me that the PSC has issued directives that no utility service can be discontinued during the effective period of the Governor’s executive orders. Although not governed by the dictates of the PSC, municipalities are encouraged by Commissioner Greene to follow those PSC guidelines.

Please read this message in connection with my previous reports/updates. Also, we will continue to post developing as circumstance with COVID-19 develop.