City officials urge residents to 'hang in there'

Scott J. Anderson

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux and Chief Administrative Officer Scot Byrd had a word of encouragement for citizens as the city continues to ride out out the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated stay-at-home order: Just hang in there.

"I know everybody is tired," Byrd said. "But we're a tough people. And we will get through this. It's not going to end soon. Right now we are at the worst of it. But if we keep doing what the governor recommended we'll be OK."

Byrd reported that one city utility worked has tested positive for COVID-19. He also said one Gonzales poice officer has been tested, but those test results have not come back yet.

The streets of Gonzales appeared more crowded in recent days, Byrd said, although he wasn't sure what to think of it.

"I don't know if it's related to the plants, and they are figuring out how to make this work, or if people are ignoring the order to stay at home," he said. "My initial reaction was yes, I am concerned about it."

Arceneaux and Byrd continue to work, along with split shifts of City Hall employees. Byrd said the mayor was glad to deliver an Easter message to his constituency through Facebook last weekend. "I thought it came across very well," Byrd said. "Obviously, he's a very caring guy."

But the Easter message wasn't quite the same.

"I don't think he responds well to being cooped up," Byrd said of Arceneaux. "He's definitely ready to be out and about. But he's trying to be a good guy and set a good example by staying at home himself."

This Easter was unlike any oher for many people, Byrd said. His family and those he has talked to turned to technology to watch Easter services from home and to connect with family members near and far. Byrd and his wife conducted a series of Google Hangout sessions with their children and grandchildren.

"It was not what we are used to, for sure," he said. "It's sad. But I also think it slows us down and gives us time to reflect on what's important."

Byrd did try to connect in-person with his daughter and his 16-month-old granddaughter. But social distancing guidelines forced them to cut the visit short, he said.

"We couldn't hardly stand the visit," he said. "We were keeping our distance, but she's reaching out for us to pick her up. She didn't understand what was going on."

Despite the current hardships, Byrd is hopeful about life after the pandemic subsides.

"We've got a little further to go," he said. "We're going to come out of it on the other side better than many are predicting. When it's over, we're going to come back strong."