Louisiana awaits ventilators, new facility as cases rise
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials in Louisiana are awaiting the arrival of hundreds of ventilators and preparing to convert a New Orleans convention center into a facility that could hold thousands of coronavirus patients so that hospitals are not soon overrun. The state says it now has more than 12,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The state Department of Health announced the new figure Saturday. It's an increase of nearly 2,200 confirmed cases from Friday. At least 409 people in the state have died of the disease. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Saturday that the federal government would be sending 200 additional ventilators for a total of 350.
Louisiana Shrimp Association donates shrimp to food pantry
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A food pantry in New Orleans has received nearly 2,500 pounds of shrimp to help families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation to Second Harvest Food Bank was announced Friday by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The donation was given by Ronnie Anderson and David and Kim Chauvin, owners of Bluewater Shrimp Company based in Dulac, Louisiana. According to a news release, Second Harvest will divide the shrimp to offer families a few pounds each.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-FEDERAL PRISONS
Barr orders increase in home confinement as virus surges
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to increase the use of home confinement. In a memo Friday, Barr says the agency must expedite the release of eligible high-risk inmates. beginning with three federal prisons where coronavirus cases have skyrocketed. They include FCC Oakdale, a prison complex in Louisiana where five inmates have died and more than a dozen others remain hospitalized. At FCI Elkton in Ohio, three inmates have died. And 20 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at FCI Danbury in Connecticut. Congressional leaders and prison advocates have been pressing the Justice Department for weeks to release at-risk inmates ahead of a potential outbreak.
New coronavirus limits bring new religious freedom tension
NEW YORK (AP) — Despite state and local limits on public gatherings, some faith leaders have persisted in holding in-person services -- a matter of religious freedom, they say, as the nation approached its fourth Sunday battling the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement officials in Florida, Louisiana and Maryland took separate action this week against pastors who continue to hold in-person services in the face of stay-home orders in most states. But more than a half-dozen of those state orders provide a degree of exemption for religious activity, underscoring the political sensitivity of the decisions being made by states and localities.
Louisiana hospitals, medical staff stretched thin amid virus
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s coronavirus outbreak has exceeded 10,000 confirmed cases. That's according to the latest data from the state's health department. Hospitals and health care workers are worrying if they’ll have enough people and equipment to meet the ever-growing demands of an epidemic expected to start overwhelming some medical facilities within a week. Gov. John Bel Edwards released New Orleans regional modeling Friday that showed concerning projections. The model indicated that even as many people are following Edwards' stay-home order, the rate of strict compliance remains too low to keep from daily surges in new hospitalizations that will strain the ability to care for all patients.
New Orleans calliope tribute for jazz great Ellis Marsalis
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A tourist riverboat calliope blasted hymn and gospel tunes across New Orleans' French Quarter as a tribute to jazz pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, who died Wednesday of COVID-19. A medley including “How Great Thou Art” and “I'll Fly Away” climaxed with “When the Saints Go Marching In” and the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Tristan Dufrene was among several people making cellphone videos of the performance. Afterward, she said it was beautiful. Marsalis taught generations of jazz players, including four of his six sons. His son Wynton is a trumpeter and the artistic director of jazz at New York’s Lincoln Center.
OSHA cites companies in deadly New Orleans hotel collapse
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal agency has issued citations against a dozen companies in connection with last fall's deadly partial collapse of a hotel under construction in New Orleans. They include an engineering firm charged with a “willful” violation involving the design and approval of steel bolt connections that affected the structural integrity of the structure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also cited a steel contractor for “failing to maintain structural stability of the building." The collapse killed three workers and injured 18.
Couple released after trespassing charged in man's death