by Brooke Gillespie | Apr 22, 2020 | COVID

St. Martin Parish President Chester R. Cedars
April 21, 2020
7:30 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 APRIL 21, 2020

The report from LDH for this date reflects that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State is 24,854 with 1,405 deaths. This represents, over a three- day period, a statewide increase of 1,274 positive tests and an increase of 138 deaths. The number of reported positive tests in surrounding areas also increased. The following is the count for our region:

  • Acadia Parish: 114 cases, 7 deaths
  • Calcasieu Parish: 334 cases, 20 deaths
  • Evangeline Parish: 43 cases, 0 deaths
  • Iberia Parish: 195 cases, 10 deaths
  • Jeff Davis Parish: 57 cases, 5 deaths
  • Lafayette Parish: 429 cases, 17 deaths
  • St. Landry Parish: 136 cases, 26 deaths
  • St. Martin Parish: 193 cases, 13 deaths
  • St. Mary Parish: 160 cases, 16 deaths
  • Vermilion Parish: 33 cases, 1 death

The total reported positive tests in the above Parishes is 1,694 which is an increase of 96 cases in three days. The total deaths is 115 which is an increase of 16 over that period. For the benefit of Stephensville and Belle River, Assumption Parish (adjacent to Belle River) has 151 positive tests and 1 reported death, an increase of 8 positive tests and no increase in deaths.

These numbers reflect a very positive downward trend. However, yesterday I learned during a conference with Dr. Tina Stefanski that the hospitalizations in our region still outnumber the discharges, all relative to COVID-19. Also, for several days the amount of testing has been trending upwards. Health officials opine with unanimity that the downward trend is the product of the mitigation measures which have been in place have had a positive effect on the spread of the disease.

BUSINESS REOPENINGS

Yesterday afternoon, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that elective medical and dental services would be allowed effective April 27, 2020. This is the first step in ALL of our businesses either reopening or resuming normal operations. However, the re-establishment of normal activities, business and otherwise, will be a process and will proceed in phases. Therefore, the more aggressive we are in adhering to the mitigation measures currently in place, the more relaxation of those measures will transpire. I repeat my observations from my last report:

Everyone has the April 30th date circled and is as hopeful as I am that we will START to see a return to normalcy by a relaxation of the mitigation measures currently in place. The degree that the measures will be removed is dependent on where we are at regarding the spread of the virus. Thus, we MUST CONTINUE TO ADHERE TO THE MITIGATION MEASURES OF THE STAY AT HOME ORDERS. We have only 12 [now 9] days to go; thus, we must not become impatient and try to speed up the process – that would be counterproductive. I analogize this situation to a runner who is nearing the finish line – instead of slacking, the runner presses on even harder than before. Therefore, I encourage you to do just that relative to the Stay at Home Orders during these last 12 [now 9] days-be more vigilant than before.

PROTOCOL FOR REOPENING OF BUSINESS

As I reported last Saturday, I have formed a committee to develop minimal protocols for the re-opening of our businesses. The committee will consist of our Mayors, SMEDA Director, the Presidents of all of the Chambers of Commerce, and HAMA. Of course, the final product of the Committee’s work will depend in large measure upon the dictates of the Governor’s actions between now and April 30, 2020, the date his “Stay at Home” orders are scheduled to expire.

In the re-opening of the business community, it will be necessary to strike a reasonable balance between public health concerns and economic considerations. Moreover, we want to afford our community the opportunity to engage is business pursuits without the imposition of any unreasonable restrictions. I believe the cross section which this committee represents will be able to meet these objectives.

Of course, the idea of social distancing and limitations on gatherings MUST NOT be abandoned as we proceed with this “return”. Furthermore, our continued personal hygiene practices must continue unabated. Finally, when not engaged in an essential endeavor such as work, obtaining medicine and/or groceries, and taking care of family, we should STAY AT HOME.

PARISH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Unless there is a reversal of the downward trends in positive tests, I intend to have all Parish Government employees report to work at their assigned locations on Monday, April 27, 2020. There will be conditions imposed relative to special measures such as masks, gloves, absence of symptoms of any sort of illness, absence of fever, and disinfectant of work areas at the beginning and end of each work day. Of course, there will continue to be 6 feet distancing mandates. The final mandates in that regard are currently being developed. My target date for opening parish offices to the public is anticipated for May 4, 2020, with restrictions such as those enunciated above. When our parks will reopen is dependent upon the Governor’s actions in the next 9 days.

Indeed, several factors were vetted by me in making this decision at this time. First and foremost is that with protective measures in place, there should be no significant health risk presented. Also, I deem every single employee of the Parish as essential. If not, then there would be no reason to have the employee on the public payroll. Finally, it seems that the primary objective of the measures which have been imposed has been met – to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

PRIOR INFORMATION

The following information was contained in my report of April 18, 2020, and is reproduced because of its import ESPECIALLY THE CENSUS REMINDER.

2020 CENSUS

You are reminded of the importance of completing the 2020 census. Indeed, a crisis such as the current one highlights the import of accurate census data which is a determinant for funding for schools, hospitals, nutrition, and health programs. Moreover, our representation in Congress is dependent upon an accurate census count. I understand that our response rate remains below that of the rest of the nation. Thus, please complete the census forms. Information regarding the census can be found on the www.2020census.gov.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

I again invite, AND ENCOURAGE, everyone to visit the website designed and managed by Jennifer Stelly, the Executive Director of the St. Martin Parish Economic Development Authority: www.shopstmartinparish.com/covid-19-resources

This site has a wealth of information about the many business opportunities afforded our local businesses as a result of the CARES Act.

Similarly, a complete listing of businesses and the services they offer during this COVID-19 crisis is available at: www.shopstmartinparish.com

I wish to extend my gratitude to Ms. Stelly for a job well done. SMEDA plays a vital role is attracting and promoting local businesses.