St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
May 22, 2020
I again remind you of the new page on the Parish website for COVID-19 information and updates (www.stmartinparish.net/coronavirus).
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 MAY 22, 2020
As a threshold matter, it is important to note that the data received from the Louisiana Department of Health over the last few days are somewhat skewed for several reasons. The most prominent ones address the fact that several private labs are now reporting cases that date back to as early as March. Additionally, there have been, and will continue to be, significant increases in testing. Also, there is comprehensive testing across congregant settings and workplace outbreaks. I note again that as testing ramps up, there will be higher positive “case counts”.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, AN INCREASE IN POSITIVE TEST DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE DOING POORLY IN OUR PHASE ONE RE-OPENING.
As I previously opined, and in view of the anticipated increase in case counts, the percentage of positive tests looms ever more pertinent. As such, particularly favorable, and noteworthy, is that, statewide, only 6.1% of tests now conducted produce positive results, well below the 10% rate set by the White House as a benchmark. In Region 4, there was a positivity rate of 5% with St. Martin Parish having a 12.5% rate; however, that number is very likely misleadingly high because of the delayed reporting previously referenced. Finally, keep in mind a low percentage of positive tests portends meeting the criteria for Phase II.
Against the forgoing backdrop, the report from LDH for this date reflects that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State is 36,925 with 2,545 deaths. This represents a statewide increase of 421 positive tests and an increase of 39 deaths from yesterday. The following is the count for our area:
- Acadia Parish: 289 cases, 15 deaths
- Calcasieu Parish: 567 cases, 43 deaths
- Evangeline Parish: 87 cases, 1 death
- Iberia Parish: 388 cases, 36 deaths
- Jeff Davis Parish: 73 cases, 7 deaths
- Lafayette Parish: 637 cases, 23 deaths
- St. Landry Parish: 247 cases, 52 deaths
- St. Martin Parish: 288 cases, 22 deaths
- St. Mary Parish: 294 cases, 29 deaths
- Vermilion Parish: 50 cases, 3 deaths
The seven Parishes in LDH Region 4 (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, and Vermilion) reflect a total number of positive tests of 1,986 and 152 deaths. Again, these numbers should be qualified in view of the fact that more people are now being tested, and yesterday positive tests were reported to LDH by labs which had not previously reported.
RE-OPENING OF BUSINESSES
On June 1, 2020, Governor Edwards will announce whether the State meets the criteria necessary to enter Phase II of the re-opening of our businesses and the removal of restrictions. I am eagerly awaiting that decision which is only 10 days away. It is essential that the community continue practicing social distancing, wearing of masks, and avoiding large gatherings. Of course, the continued practice of hygiene measure must not be abandoned. At the same time, I continue to encourage everyone to consider availing themselves of the recent removal of the measures against both our activities and our many merchants, all associated with Phase I. Our return to normalcy and adopting positive steps to patronage our local merchants is so important that little qualifying commentary is warranted. We can most assuredly strike a proper, feasible balance between cautiously engaging in social, religious, and business activities and continuing to take health protective steps such as social distancing, wearing of masks, etc. They need not be mutually exclusive.
If any business has not done so, I again encourage registration with the website https://opensafely.la.gov/. This site is equipped to provide guidelines which are specific to each classification or type of businesses. If any measures change, the revisions are sent directly to the merchant by e-mail. Also, questions peculiar to a specific business will be answered by the State Fire Marshal, the agency which is sponsoring the site. I invite the reader to review the post from May 15, 2020.
OPENING OF PARISH FACILITIES
All Parish facilities were opened to the public on May 18, 2020, pursuant to specific protocol. As previously published, everyone entering Parish offices will have temperatures checked and be required to wear a mask all in accordance with White House guidelines and recommendations. Of course, social distancing will be practiced. All went well during the week, and I foresee our activities will continue without problems.
A critical step in putting this COVID-19 crisis behind us is the development of a comprehensive testing program for the State. To ensure that St. Martin Parish is not excluded, I have been in contact with LDH on this issue for several weeks. As a result, working in concert with LDH, Lafayette General Hospital will be offering testing sites over the next several weeks throughout the Parish. Sites will include the Cecilia Civic Center, Clayton Boudreaux Memorial Park (Catahoula), Arnaudville, Parc Hardy (Breaux Bridge), and Stephensville Elementary. The specific dates and times for each site will be announced.
The testing will be available to everyone, and will NOT be mandatory, as has been erroneous reported. Also, in order to be tested, one need NOT exhibit any COVID-19 symptom and need NOT be a member of the high-risk class. To be tested, upon one’s presentation at a testing site, all that will be required are identification and an insurance card if one is insured. If a person has no insurance, there will be no charge for the testing. Also, the cost will be only what the insurance company will pay for the testing with no co-pay requirements.
The importance of completing the 2020 census cannot be overstated. An accurate census count is a determinant for funding for schools, hospitals, nutrition, and health programs. Moreover, our representation in Congress is dependent upon a correct, complete census count. As of May 9, 2020, the Louisiana self-response report rate is 52.9% compared to 58.5% nationally. The self-response rate for St. Martin Parish is 51.5% which ranks 25th in the State. Please complete the census forms which you receive. Information regarding the census can be found on at www.2020census.gov.
Monday is Memorial Day, a national holiday since 1971. As you know, this day is set aside to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the United States military. As we gather (while exercising social distancing), with our family and/or friends, please take a moment to offer a prayer of appreciation to all of those who have paid the ultimate price for our country. I am certain all of you will join St. Martin Parish Government is stating that “May God Bless America” and all of those who have died for her.