St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
March 30, 2020
5:15 P.M.

The latest numbers from LDH reflect that there are 4,025 positive COVID-19 tests in Louisiana and 185 deaths. The number of reported positive tests in surrounding areas stands at 212 with 8 deaths:

  • Lafayette Parish: 82 cases, 1 death
  • Calcasieu Parish: 42 cases, 1 death
  • St. Landry Parish: 15 cases, 1 death
  • St. Martin Parish: 20 cases, 3 deaths
  • Iberia Parish: 18 cases
  • Acadia Parish: 11 cases, 1 death
  • Evangeline Parish: 8 cases
  • St. Mary Parish: 10 cases
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 3 cases
  • Vermilion Parish: 3 cases, 1 death

The numbers continue to rise substantially. The increase in the number of reported positive cases is precisely what health officials have been predicting for several weeks. Also, reference is made to my observations in the post from last Friday relative to the perspective of our local health officials regarding the spread of COVID-19.

UNIFORM APPROACH TO IMPLEMENTATION
OF STAY-AT-HOME ORDER

For quite some time I have been strongly urging that there be uniformity among the various Parishes in our region relative to the Stay-At-Home Order of Governor Edwards. I made this point again during the press conference which was held at the Parish OEP on Friday morning. That press conference is on the Parish Facebook page. However, I have been advised that the sound may be somewhat compromised. Thus, you can access the conference in its entirety on the local television websites and Facebook pages (KATC, KLFY, and KADN).

For the last three weeks, there have been conference calls among all of the Parish and municipal representatives in the Acadiana Planning Commission Region. This includes 7 parishes. Also, these conferences are held twice per week. In today’s conference call, the importance of a uniform message was emphasized. In a press conference scheduled for this afternoon by Lafayette Parish, this message was repeated. Moreover, I set forth below my comments from last Friday which most assuredly merits repeating:

I will go one step further, our efforts to enforce the measures imposed by Governor John Bel Edwards, have been met with too much resistance from many fronts. This must end. I am calling upon all of the leaders of this region to stand untied-we must enforce and apply the Governor’s Executive Order so that only essential activities (as defined in Section 3 of his Stay-At-Home Order) are conducted. It does not take a rocket scientist to define what is essential; and, if one wants to resort to splitting hairs, consult the guidelines of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to which Section 3 of the Order refers. If doubt still exists as to what activity, business or otherwise, is permitted, resort to applying the spirit of the Order which is clearly set forth in its title: STAY AT HOME.

SPECIFIC PROBLEMS THROUGHOUT THE REGION

One problem which is universal as regards all areas of our region addresses the fact that there are simply too many people shopping in stores at one time. This seems to be more acute in the large box stores according to several comments this morning during our regional telephone conference. Therefore, we encourage everyone who must visit an essential business to do so alone or with only a minimal number of household members. Moreover, everyone is encouraged to shop for only essentials: medicine, food, and related products.

STAY-AT-HOME EXECUTIVE ORDER

The Stay-At-Home order issued by Governor John Bel Edwards is outlined in my report of March 25, 2020. You are invited to review it since that post will remain on our site.

BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

Recently enacted federal legislation has appropriated significant money for assistance to small business operations. It is my understanding (I have not studied the legislation) that one facet offers to small businesses with less than 500 employees a long term, low interest loan. If the loan proceeds are used to continue to pay current employees, then the loan will be forgiven. Information on this small business package can be found on the following website:

https://www.inc.com/brit-morse/sba-loans-coronavirus-stimulus-package-cares-act.html?fbclid=IwAR3v2dL2FlBSFP_2cOqLWtrAUAJYLAxKi0xVv1QQ1pxTlRHNau8FsFcWKnE

Also, on this Thursday evening I will participate in a “virtual” meeting with Congressman Higgins regarding this program.

Also, Lafayette Parish is disseminating packages which outlines the various programs which are being offered for small business impacted by the current crisis. This information provides data for workers whose jobs may have been terminated. The material can be obtained at the drive-through window at Lafayette City Government building between 10:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. More information on this program can be obtained by dialing 311, and selecting option 2 from the menu.

SPECIFIC CONCERNS EXPRESSED

We continue to receive inquiries about certain businesses which remain open and which do not appear to be “essential.” Every business which remains open and about which complaints are received are indeed evaluated. However, as I noted last Saturday:

The answer lies in the Governor’s Executive Order 33 JBE 2020. Section 5 of the Order has been interpreted to allow non-essential businesses to remain open so long as social distancing is practiced and the 10-person gathering limitation is followed. However, Section 3 of that Order permits individuals to leave their home for work purposes only for essential business pursuits. Moreover, it seems to me that under Section 3 the only shopping which individuals may do is for essentials such as food and medicine. Also, our OEP is the agency which is tasked with the enforcement of the Order in Section 6 thereof and in my Executive Order of March 24, 2020. As such, in each instance where a question arises about a business operation which is not specifically named in the Order (such as a casino or bar), our OEP has contacted the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for guidance. In all candor, I truly believe too many businesses, for several reasons, have avoided closure under the guidance we have received from GOHSEP.

Moreover, I have received reports about specifically listed businesses in the Stay-At-Home Order which must close (bars, hair salons, etc.) being open and conducting activities. If anyone knows of any such business operating, please contact our OEP at 337-394-2808 so that the proper investigation can ensue. There have been isolated violations which have been successfully addressed through our OEP.

Also, we are still receiving questions about the imposition of a curfew. The issue likewise surfaced this morning during the regional conference call. Here in St. Martin Parish, there still have been no developments which warrant a curfew. All of the municipal leaders and law enforcement personnel remain of the opinion that there is no basis for a curfew since there have been few reports of undue congregation of people. Everyone agrees that the most effective way to control the transmission of COVID-19 is to restrict our movements – not the time of our movements.