The LDH report released today reflects that there are 9,150 positive COVID-19 tests in Louisiana and 310 deaths. The number of reported positive tests in surrounding areas is 684 with 10 deaths:

  • Lafayette Parish: 247 cases, 2 deaths
  • Calcasieu Parish: 108 cases, 1 death
  • Iberia Parish: 67 cases, 1 death
  • Acadia Parish: 61 cases, 1 death
  • St. Martin Parish: 58 cases, 3 deaths
  • St. Landry Parish: 56 cases, 1 death
  • St. Mary Parish: 42 cases
  • Evangeline Parish: 16 cases
  • Vermilion Parish: 16 cases, 1 death
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 13 cases

These numbers are substantially higher than yesterday. However, Governor Edwards noted that:

“While extremely upsetting, this increase in COVID-19 cases appears to be less a sign of new exponential growth and more a sign of a logjam from commercial labs.”

In other words, there was an apparent marked increase in the number of lab reports received in the last day. While the percentage of the increase may not, in and of itself, be a concern, what is notable is the staggering number of positive cases, regardless of the date of the tests or the date the results were received. The need to diligently adhere to all of the behavioral measures previously imposed and the recommended personal hygiene steps are clearly highlighted by these numbers. However, none of those measures are more important than the STAY AT HOME Order issued by Governor on March 22, 2020.

CURFEW

According to our OEP and law enforcement, the first day of the curfew went very well yesterday. No problems with adherence were encountered which is very encouraging. I wish to emphasize that the curfew is for the entire Parish-incorporated and non-incorporated areas. The curfew is from 10:00 P.M. until 5:00 A.M. The only exceptions are:

  1. Emergency personnel-fire, police, and ambulance
  2. Anyone going to and from employment
  3. Any essential business activity SPECIFICALLY defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructural Security Agency.

CONSTRUCTION PERMITS

There has been some confusion/misunderstanding regarding the issuance of construction permits at St. Martin Parish Government. Much of the misunderstanding was created by the application of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order by several agencies including our office and utility providers. Those have been addressed and clarified.
These are the established guidelines which have been established for St. Martin Parish:

  1. All construction permits (residential and commercial) will be processed.
  2. For plans which must be approved, they can be e-mailed in pdf format to speltier@stmartinparish.net or they can be delivered to: BCIS, 100 Sis Lane, Carencro, LA 70520.
  3. Once the plans have been approved, the contractor will be advised and the payment for the permit fees must be made electronically by calling (337) 394-2200. At this time, payments are being accepted by credit or debit card only. Once payment is made, the permit and receipt will be e-mailed.
  4. St. Martin Parish Government will be taking all telephone calls regarding any issue whatsoever inclusive of questions regarding permits.

SANDBAGS AND NO WAKE ZONE

I have issued a No Wake Order for the Stephensville and Belle River areas because of high water. This Order will stay in effect until it is recalled. Moreover, there are two self-serve sand bag locations for these communities. One is in Stephensville behind the carwash adjacent to Doirion’s boat launch, and the other is across the highway from the Belle River Fire Station.

SHOPPING NUMBERS

Today, in a bi-weekly telephone conference call among the seven parishes which comprise the Acadiana Planning Commission, a common point discussed was the number of persons presenting themselves at various stores. This was a problem upon which I commented several days ago:

“I ask that many of our essential businesses examine methods that can be adopted on their premises that would eliminate undue congregation of customers. Suggestions include: limiting the number of persons in a store at any given time; having those in a checkout line spaced at six-foot intervals; routine disinfecting shopping carts; and any other measure which one’s ingenuity can develop.”

This afternoon, I personally visited several businesses in our Parish which are deemed essential. Not a single one had a limitation on the number of customers at a given time. Moreover, I saw far too many persons shopping in groups of three and four. I do note that the “offensive stores” were generally not those which are locally owned. At one store, several employees recognized me and complained about having to work without efforts being made by management to limit the number of customers at any given point in time.

Section 5 of the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, Executive Order 33 JBE 2020, according to the agency tasked with its enforcement, GOHSEP, allows non-essential businesses to remain open so long as social distancing is practiced and the 10-person gathering limitation in a single space is followed. “Essential” business ventures do not have that limitation. It is obvious that our entire region, not just St. Martin Parish, must demand that clear messages be sent to the effect that:

  1. The “non-essential” businesses be instructed to adhere to the 10-person limitation and social distancing dictates; and,
  2. “Essential” businesses, ESPECIALLY BOX STORES, should develop and enforce limitations on the number of persons permitted in the place of business at one time.

What is particularly disconcerting to me is that our locally owned essential businesses are operating at a disadvantage on several fronts. For example, many of these box stores that have a “grocery department” are permitted to allow tons of customers to shop for both groceries and non-essentials at the same time.

I have secured a commitment that state officials would be contacted by our APC leadership to discuss these issues. I will keep everyone abreast of these efforts. Nonetheless, I certainly do not want to see, and I will vehemently oppose, any sort of guideline which will limit the number of customers in a store based upon that store’s total square footage-such a rule would favor those Box Type enterprises which market both essentials (groceries) and non-essentials (watches, rings, and everything else) to the detriment of our locally owned businesses. And again-the problem does not seem to lie the local businesses.

After all is said and done, the power to adhere to the dictates lie with us-the general public. Section 3 of the State at Home Order seems to me to permit shopping only for essentials such as food and medicine, and when we do such shopping, it should not be with the whole family. Note these remarks in Section 3 of the Order:

“To preserve the public health and safety, and to insure the healthcare system is capable of serving all citizens in need, especially those at high risk and vulnerable to COVID-19, all individuals within the State of Louisiana ARE UNDER A GENERAL STAT-AT-HOME ORDER AND ARE DIRECTED TO STAY HOME UNLESS PERFORMING AN ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY.

An activity is deemed essential if the purpose is one of the following:

Obtaining food, medicine, and other similar goods necessary for the individual or a family member of the individual.

Obtaining non-elective medical care and treatment and other similar vital services for an individual or a family member of the individual.

Going to and from an individual’s workplace to perform a job function necessary to provide goods or services being sought in the preceding sections, or as otherwise deemed essential worker functions.

Going to and from the home of a family member.

Going to and from an individual’s place of worship.

Engaging in an outdoor activity, providing individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gatherings.”

Let me conclude that all of St. Martin Parish takes this matter very seriously and will do everything possible to protect the public and to adhere with governmental restrictions fairly and equitably.