West side site completes week of coronavirus testing

Michael Tortorich
Members of the Louisiana National Guard assist with the testing process at Donaldsonville Primary School last week. The site reopened to Louisiana residents this week.
Photo by Michael Tortorich.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan provided an update last week on the progress of the coronavirus testing site.

Sullivan said the site at Donaldsonville Primary School opened April 27 with 214 people receiving tests. The drive-through site’s opening day was limited to first responders, medical personnel, and seniors over 65 years old.

Of the 214 people tested, 149 registered with a Donaldsonville address, he said.

The site opened Tuesday to all Louisiana residents, aged 18 and over, with a valid state identification. A total of 239 tests were administered Tuesday.

The site tested a total of 1,001 citizens in the first six-day period, according to Ascension Parish Homeland Security.

After a break Sunday, testing resumed Monday, May 4, at the site.

“I want to thank all of those who are part of the testing, and thank the citizens who are going out to be tested,” Sullivan said.

Due to inclement weather, the site was closed April 29. It reopened last Thursday, and continued through Saturday.

The self-swab test is free of charge with no doctor’s order required. To take a test, the individual must be in a vehicle. No pets are allowed on site.

“We want to thank Gov. John Bel Edwards, Senator Ed Price, Representative Ken Brass, Parish President Clint Cointment, the Governor’s OHSEP, Ascension OHSEP, Ascension Health Unit workers, Louisiana National Guard, Ascension Parish School Board, Bobby Webre and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, and FEMA, as well as the countless number of volunteers assisting in this very important project,” Sullivan said.

The mayor has been communicating with area officials through a reopening committee. The group has been examining when and how to approach resuming public activities. They have been following the guidance of the governor, parish president and local officials.

“When we get direction and clarity, we will communicate the process to the public. Rest assured, we will act on what is best for the health and well-being of our citizens,” Sullivan said.

Mask distribution

Last week, municipalities and fire departments across Ascension Parish distributed donated reusable masks to the public.

The Hanes clothing company donated the masks to the State of Louisiana. Distribution was based on 40 percent of the population of each parish. A total of 49,060 masks were distributed to area fire departments and mayors.

In Donaldsonville, Mayor Sullivan received 2,000 masks, and Fire Chief Adam Gautreaux received 2,000. They pooled the resources together to distribute at the west bank site.

“There are more than 10,000 people on the west bank of Ascension Parish, so you can see how short we were on masks, as other areas of the parish were,” Sullivan said.

In order to serve more people, he made the decision to separate the packs.

Ascension Parish Sheriff’s deputies, members of the Donaldsonville Fire Department, and several volunteers assisted in distributing masks Monday night.

“Everyone who came through the line, received a mask,” Sullivan said. “Thank you to the citizens of Donaldsonville and the outlying areas for understanding.”

Local courts

The courts have issued notice that no jury trials will take place before June 30. Judges are utilizing video conferencing. 

The 23rd Judicial Court and Ascension Parish Court have been open from 8:30 a.m to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Judges will continue to hear emergency and time-sensitive matters in criminal and civil matters.

Marriage licenses are by appointment only. One applicant must be an Ascension Parish resident. Birth certificates and passports have been suspended, and the building has been closed to the public. They are accepting legal documents at the door 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes.

Chateau D’ville parade

Chateau D’ville, a nursing facility located in Donaldsonville, was the site of a parade last week to honor healthcare staff.

The facility’s Facebook page has a video of the parade of vehicles as they passed in front of the building along Vatican Drive. 

Hurricane season approaches

As hurricane season begins June 1, Parish President Clint Cointment will proclaim “Hurricane Preparedness Week” at the May 7 virtual Parish Council meeting.

The proclamation urges every resident to plan ahead to mitigate the negative effects hurricanes can have.

Keeping Calm Hotline

Anyone feeling overwhelmed with stress, fear and anxiety, can call the 24/7 Keeping Calm through COVID Hotline.

Trained counselors are available to offer confidential support, and mental health and substance abuse counseling services. 

The phone number is 1-866-310-7977.