St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
May 8, 2020
4:00 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 MAY 8, 2020

The report from LDH for this date reflects that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State is 30,855 with 2,154 deaths. This represents, over a three-day period, a statewide increase of 889 positive tests and an increase of 112 deaths. The number of reported positive tests in surrounding areas also increased. The following is the count for our area:

  • Acadia Parish: 142 cases, 11 deaths
  • Calcasieu Parish: 481 cases, 38 deaths
  • Evangeline Parish: 67 cases, 1 death
  • Iberia Parish: 283 cases, 26 deaths
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 66 cases, 6 deaths
  • Lafayette Parish: 481 cases, 21 deaths
  • St. Landry Parish: 204 cases, 49 deaths
  • St. Martin Parish: 255 cases, 20 deaths
  • St. Mary Parish: 255 cases, 20 deaths
  • Vermilion Parish: 40 cases, 2 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 1,472 and 130 deaths. This represents an increase in Region 4 of 41 positive cases and 9 deaths since May 5, 2020 (3 days). This is extremely promising since, as I previously reported, the gating criterion which was cited as one of the bases for there not being a Phase 1 reopening was a lack of a downward trend in positive cases. Indeed, Region 4 was specifically mentioned as having not met that requirement.

In all candor, it seems to me that our “numbers” would be even more encouraging if and when we discount the number of positive cases in confined facilities, such as nursing homes, and the number of previously reported positive cases who have recovered. You will recall I reviewed this in more detail in my report of May 5, 2020. I stated in that report that:

Last Friday, I advised that I had discussed with LDH my concerns about factoring in positive tests of individuals confined in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. It seems imprudent to include in the application of the gating criteria clusters of positive tests of those in such facilities. The focus is the control of the spread of the disease from a communal perspective as regards meeting the gating criteria. Clusters of cases in one facility presents a different issue and can be easily controlled to prevent a communal spread. Of course, we need to address with vigor these clusters in our nursing homes.

Moreover, in an attempt to ascertain a “real-time” idea of the number of positive tests in the “community”, it seems to me that one ought to consider the number of recovered cases, subtracting both that number and the number of positive tests confined to long-term care facilities. Of course, we cannot lose sight of the fact that many people with COVID-19 symptoms, but not in a high risk-category, are not tested. Also, many people have the virus, but are asymptomatic.

Yesterday, such discussions transpired among a number of Parish Presidents and epidemiologists with LDH wherein I again referenced the foregoing. I am hopeful that this “link” will be an integral part of the chain of considerations when the gating criteria are next assessed relative to a phased re-opening.

RE-OPENING OF BUSINESSES

It is anticipated that the Governor will announce on Monday what measures associated with the current Stay at Home Order will be relaxed. Of primary import is what businesses will be allowed to re-open. St. Martin Parish Government, the Mayors in our municipalities, and other local leaders have been in communication with both our local legislative delegation and leaders beyond our district expressing the need for our merchants to be allowed to re-open as quickly as possible. Furthermore, Parish Government has been in constant contact with other Parish officials in our region to ensure that there will be a consistent, uniform, and reasonable application of any edict forthcoming from the Governor. All of these efforts will continue.

In connection with the foregoing, there is not one classification of business allowed to be open in any other Parish under the Governor’s previous and current orders which has been ordered, or other advised, to be closed in St. Martin Parish. Indeed, the understandable confusion generated by the Stay at Home Order of the Governor issued on March 22, 2020, was clarified by Parish Government within a day or so of that proclamation. One’s attention is invited to the post of the Parish on March 25, 2020, which was disseminated to all of our Mayors, chamber representatives, and Teche News.

OPEN SAFELY DICTATES

Yesterday, we posted a website https://opensafely.la.gov/. This site will be equipped to provide guidelines to specific classifications of businesses which will be allowed to re-open during the phased process which I am hopeful, and guardedly optimistic, will be announced Monday. By registering on this website, the specific measures and conditions which will be established for each type of business as a condition of re-opening will be 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.

There have been some concerns expressed to the effect that this is a “big brother” tactic. It is submitted that the information given when one registers is identical to that which is already available to the government through occupational license applications and fire marshal inspections. Nonetheless, any discomfort a merchant may have relative to the foregoing most assuredly can be assuaged through vetting any questions about a specific scenario to the Parish and/or its OEP. No personal identifying information in such an instance will be solicited.

OPENING OF PARISH FACILITIES

I repeat my last post from Tuesday.

On Friday, May 1, 2020, all of our Parks were opened, including the children’s playground equipment. The pavilion, ball fields, and basketball courts remain closed, however. I have instructed that Uncle Dick Davis RV park will be opened this Thursday, May 7, 2020.

As I prepare this report, I anticipate that all Parish Government offices will be opened to the public commencing no later than May 18, 2020. I am daily monitoring the matter and at this stage will continue to abide by the dictates of the Governor’s guidance implicit in 52 JBE 2020. Any reopening of the Parish facilities will be pursuant to well defined protocols designed to protect both our employees and the general public.

One of the most complicated issues with which the Parish is confronted in the opening of the Courthouse which has been closed because of both the Governor’s Executive Orders and an Order from the Louisiana Supreme Court. This morning, I conferred with two of our eight judges to prepare for a resumption of court proceedings and will be scheduling a conference with other judges, the clerks of court in our judicial district (St. Martin, St. Mary, and Iberia Parishes), the district attorney, the Public Defender Board, and Sheriffs to plan accordingly. The task is daunting when one considers the number of court cases which must be addressed and how to safely handle the appearance of jurors, witnesses, and essential court personnel. In St. Martin Parish alone, there are three courtrooms which warrant attention. There is an old adage that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

MOTHER’S DAY

I wish all of the Mothers a very happy and safe Mother’s Day. If you have the opportunity, may I suggest that you let your mother, wife, and/or daughters know just how special they are and how much respect and admiration a Mother deserves. This day is indeed very special.