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Officials remain vigilant through coronavirus pandemic

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Louisiana surpassed 512 coronavirus deaths Monday.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the state had a total of 14,867 positive cases as of Monday, April 6, at noon. 

Ascension Parish accounted for 347 positives, and 11 deaths, LDH reported.

Commercial tests completed and reported to the state totaled 64,656. Tests completed by a state lab came to 4,510. A total of 1,809 patients were reported in hospitals with 563 of those on ventilators. All but two of the 64 parishes have reported cases.

Local, state, and national leaders have continued to face challenges related to COVID-19, keeping residents updated along the way.

Stay at Home Order extended 

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order extending the Stay at Home Order through April 30.

Edwards stressed the importance of continuing compliance with the Stay at Home Order, as well as other mitigation measures.

We know that social distancing efforts work and will in fact flatten the curve,” Edwards said. “I am imploring all of our people to stay home, slow the spread and save lives.”

Details of the proclamation can be found atgov.louisiana.gov.

Additionally, Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment extended the parishwide Stay at Home Order.

The order mandates that all parish government buildings remain closed to the public, but goes on to state that essential government services will continue.

My administration is in regular communication with Federal, State, and local authorities, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” Cointment said through a release via the Ever Bridge alert system. “As we have been saying for the past several weeks, we must ‘flatten the curve,’ and the way to do it is for everyone to stay home and avoid contact with others.”

The parish order extends the existing one through April 30. It can be rescinded or extended again by additional order.

Additional ventilators sent

Gov. Edwards also announced that Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Louisiana will receive an additional 200 ventilators from the federal Strategic National Stockpile.  

As of Saturday, Louisiana has received a total of 553 ventilators.

Sheriff addresses curfew concerns

Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said last week he has received several phone calls concerning the possibility of a curfew, as some area sheriffs have implemented.

Webre, speaking via a video posted to his department’s Facebook page, said he does not anticipate a curfew for Ascension.

He and his command staff have studied traffic patterns at night, and have observed mostly movement to and from the parish’s industrial facilities. 

They seem to be following the governor’s directive,” Webre said. “We feel at this time it would be too restrictive on our citizens in Ascension Parish.”

He said he will continue to monitor the situation.

Schools closed for break

Ascension Parish Public Schools will observe the previously scheduled Easter/Spring Break from April 6-13. No academic assignments or meal programs for students will be conducted during the week.

Teachers will resume online learning activities with students on April 14.

After the break, schools will provide "grab and go" meals with the non-profit Three O'Clock Project.

Starting April 14, the six pickup locations will include: Donaldsonville High, Dutchtown High, East Ascension High, St. Amant High, Sorrento Primary, and the Waguespack Center in Donaldsonville.

Parish Council meeting set

The Ascension Parish Council will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, April 16 at 6 p.m. via teleconference.

Public comment may be made via e-mail atcomments@apgov.us up to 24 prior to the meeting. Messages will be read into the official record.

Live comments will be available by calling into a number to be posted 48 hours prior onascensionparish.net.

Speakers are limited to agenda items only.

Ascension OHSEP working extended hours

Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security has activated the emergency operations center, and staff members have been working extended hours since March 13.

Each day has ended with a daily conference call with local officials, medical leaders, and emergency responders.

Wal-Mart changes shopping process

Wal-Mart, which has a major retail presence in Ascension Parish, began regulating store entry on April 4.

Stores will allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, which is about 20 percent of a store’s capacity.

Customers are admitted one-by-one and counted, according to a release from the company. Guidelines have been put into place to encourage social distancing in stores.

Small business assistance applications 

Over the weekend, Gov. Edwards encouraged small business owners across the state to apply for assistance with payroll, rent, and other operational expenses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The PPP is administered through the Small Business Administration.

Business owners can apply and obtain further information at SBA.gov.

Additional assistance is available through the Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, which offers loans up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

The loan will bear no interest for 180 days and carry below-market interest rates of no more than 3.5 percent.

For more information, see OpportunityLouisiana.com/covid19.

Donaldsonville Mayor continues frequent updates

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan has been providing live updates on a regular basis.

During his address Thursday afternoon, he emphasized the importance of distancing in public places.

Please do not go out for leisure shopping with your entire family,” Sullivan said. “This is not only for your safety, but the safety of the staff working at our local stores.” 

He acknowledged all of the first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers who have “kept the community moving” throughout a time of crisis.

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m., Sullivan has been broadcasting live to the city’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleLA.

Also, he has been broadcasting Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m. on KKAY 1590 AM and KBRS 106.9 FM. Rebroadcasts air at 6 p.m.

In the event of an after-hours emergency, residents can call (225) 806-8215. A secondary number has been set up at (225) 806-0470.