COVID-19: Mandate Battles, Surge & Spread, Mental Health Crisis, Tourism Blow | 8/13/21 | LSWI
Entergy is proud to support programing on LP and greener practices that preserve Louisiana. The goal of our environmental and sustainability initiatives really is to ensure that our kids and future generations can be left with a cleaner planet. Additional support provided by the Fred B. and Ruth B. Ziegler Foundation and the Ziegler Art Museum located in Jennings City Hall.
The museum focuses on emerging Louisiana artists and is an historical and cultural center for Southwest Louisiana. And the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting with support from viewers like you. It was a constant influx of patients. The prolonged pandemic and its toll on mental health. It seems like if they run their natural course, this pandemic can take at least two years to resolve accepting life in the new normal. I'm just saying from a political observers point of view, somebody is going to go after that base of votes.
Politics and science in a pandemic. There are still opportunities for people to come to New Orleans. Another festival canceled in the Big Uneasy. Hi, everybody. I'm Kara St. Cyr. And I'm Andre’ Moreau.
Tonight, Louisiana remains the number one Covid hotspot in the nation. That is ahead of Florida. State health leaders say they haven't seen a letup with the record. Seventy five hundred new cases today. And we have never been to a point yet in this pandemic where there is this much Covid circulating, where there is these. Number of individuals requiring care in hospitals, hospitals and where the situation in our acute care hospitals has never been as drastic at this point.
Two point one million Louisianans. Have received at least one shot. In fact, three point eight million doses have been administered. To those two point one million Louisianans.
There have been exactly eight severe adverse reactions. To the vaccine. By definition, that means a hospitalization or death. None of the eight resulted in death. Not one.
Also today, New Orleans cancels another festival, the French Quarter Festival. This follows Thursday's bold step by Mayor Latoya Cantrell. Beginning Monday, New Orleans mandates proof of vaccination.
Our current Covid test for Saints games, restaurants, bars, gyms and more. Cantrell says it is the only way. LSU was also talking about vaccines this week.
President William Tate says the vaccine would be mandated as soon as it's FDA approved, similar to the statement he made last week when they were facing criticism for not mandating the vaccine for the university. While other colleges like Tulane had already done so. The FDA is expected to approve the vaccine, at least partially sometime in the next few weeks. The president is encouraging everyone to get the shots before that time.
I think it's wise in a proper course for you to consider right now getting vaccinated ahead of that particular time. I want to encourage you to take advantage with science has offered us an opportunity to experience a new normal where we can engage together without anxiety and worry of actually becoming extremely ill. And now to other news making headlines across the state.
The Board of Regents this week enacted the rules governing how college campuses respond to and report sexual misconduct and harassment complaints. The new law also mandates training for school administrators. This is all in response to an independent review of ELISCU, which documented years of the school's mishandling of rape and abuse allegations covered under Title nine laws. Testimony from a Coast Guard hearing appears to shed light into questions surrounding this past April's tragedy at sea. The capsizing of a sea core power lifeboat that left 13 dead among 19 crewmen in the Gulf of Mexico. A Coast Guard commander testified this week that an Internet based technical glitch prevented the relay of severe weather warnings to the captain and crew shortly after they left port.
Meaning Captain David La Day, who perished, didn't respond or react because he never got the warnings. Never knew of the hurricane force winds and rough seas that would doomed the vessel. And endorsement this week for legislative Black Caucus leader and Democrat Representative Ted James for Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. James told the Baton Rouge Press Club that Snyder is, quote, the right person to be our speaker. End quote. James says Schexnayder is a friend who Democrats can still work with. Despite increased tensions from the GOP's failed veto session and Schexnayder's decision to remove two Democrats from leadership jobs.
Two men this week were exonerated in separate cases on the same day. Jarvis Ballard and Darvin Castro Santos were freed from prison after serving a combined 35 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. The Innocence Project in New Orleans represented both men. The state's new poet laureate is Dillard English professor and folklorist Mona Lisa Saloy. The governor made the announcement this week about her appointment, saying she beautifully captures the culture and essence of Louisiana and her mesmerizing poetry. Dr. Aloy says she's honored to represent her home state.
She succeeds John Warner Smith. Louisiana state law puts the governor in charge in a health emergency declaration or disaster, and such a declaration continues until the governor decides the emergency no longer exists. But that hasn't kept some state leaders or pastors or people from trying to fight the governor's mandates. And no one more so than Attorney General Jeff Landry.
The latest move from Landry came just hours before Governor John Bel Edwards reinstated this current mask mandate, a mandate that includes K through 12 schools. The Louisiana illuminator reports Landry sent an email blast to people at the State Department of Justice describing ways students could get out of wearing masks. He cited scripture telling employees they could use state laws to claim religious or philosophical objections to the mask mandate or any future vaccine requirement. Louisiana law offers broad and robust protections for students and parents.
The email reads, Landry also issued an opinion saying the state's top school board has the final say on face mask rules. Despite the governor's order, the students wear them. The governor put the mandate in place again, in part because of an increase in the number of children in the hospital with Covid. I think he's completely wrong.
And the reasoning is, is, I think, very poor. The fact of the matter is, I have the authority and the obligation under the current circumstances to declare to declare public health emergencies. We've done that for the entire state of Louisiana. And the mitigation measures that I have ordered for our state apply in our schools, not only in our schools, but they apply in our schools, just like they apply in other public indoor spaces. And simply put, because I'm not differentiating between what we're doing in schools and elsewhere, it is clearly within my authority. And the analogy that I will give you is, if we had a hurricane approaching and I ordered an evacuation from coastal parishes, it's not like that order of evacuation wouldn't apply to the schools in those coastal parishes .
So I think the the attorney general is just completely wrong. And not only is he wrong, he's going out of his way. To undermine public confidence in the basic mitigation measures that will slow transmission at a time when we need it more than at any other time in this pandemic.
It is sad. It's regrettable. It's also irresponsible and it is dangerous. This fourth wave is driven by low vaccination numbers. Relax precautions and a highly contagious Delta variant. And it finds the governor once again pleading with people to take care of themselves, their neighbors and their children who are susceptible but cannot yet be vaccinated.
And Edwards has company from across the aisle. Republican Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, who oversees the suffering tourism industry, endorsed the mask mandate lobby business and industry president Stephen Waguespack is also urging compliance with mask wearing and vaccinations. So is Congresswoman Julia Ledlow, who lost her husband to Covid.
They are all supporting the mandate, but not Landry. For people out there who do not like mask mandates, who do not like vaccine mandates. The whole notion of that, he's kind of becoming their friend. Barry Irwin, president of Council for a Better Louisiana, looked at the politics that appear to be at play. Why would someone take that stance? It's not really just the attorney general that's taking this.
I mean, you have governors in Texas and Florida. They're doing the same thing. You have Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz there saying exactly the same thing. I mean, I think a political observer would say there's a reason for that. And the reason is, is that there is a political base in the Republican Party that agrees very strongly with that and believes their civil liberties and their personal liberties and their religious liberties are being taken advantage of if you mandate anything in a health care crisis.
We haven't done a lot of polling in our state specifically on that. But you can look at some of the national polling and the focus groups, and there are people that just feel very strongly about that. And when there are people on the political side, particularly some who may be, you know, thinking about running for another office for governor or whatever, they want to appease and appeal to those voters in some way. Those voters feel so strongly about that they are going to vote that way for some candidate. And so obviously, you have some candidates that are going to be out there looking to do that.
I'm not saying the attorney general is doing that for pure political reasons. I'm just saying from a political observers point of view, somebody is going to go after that base of votes because they're going to need it to get elected if they're running for governor or some other office. Barry, thank you.
We reached out to the attorney general's office more than once this week and did not get a response. Covid is known to cause mental health problems in adults, but now experts are finding that children are suffering the longer this pandemic continues. Latasha Young, a therapist, says that the isolation and uncertainty of the virus is causing depression and anxiety to skyrocket in teens. There are no signs that this virus is slowing down any time soon. But as the pressure builds for this pandemic, another one is quietly developing. Some of the things we typically see as the surge increases is feelings of fear, anger, stress, of course, symptoms of anxiety, depression, a lot of frustration and also uncertainty, which can also lead to the panic.
And we've been getting a major influx of clients coming in as well since the pandemic. In fact, they've been coming in by vast numbers. Latasha Young is a therapist who's seen several people cope with this pandemic in several different ways. More than the anxiety and the uncertainty.
She says they're experiencing loss on a much larger scale. Some have lost several loved ones. Other people have lost jobs and income last year around the summertime. That's when we started to see a very huge increase. And I would say, if I can, of course, with respect, a lot of it was death related.
You know, a lot of people by their time, had already begun losing family members to cope with the feelings from both experiences are causing PTSD for some and insecurity for others. What's worse is that the number of cases is increasing. That means more people are reliving the beginning of the pandemic all over again. But now we're seeing a shift in who's coming in for therapy instead of adults needing help.
It's the kids that need more support. It was a constant influx of patients because again. The individuals they came in initially were grieving adults. Then we started to see a surge in children who are now being impacted in school. And I think for us clinicians, one of the things we did talk about during our roundtable discussions was that we didn't realize offhand how eager students were to get to school. The isolation and the uncertainty of the pandemic is getting to them in several studies conducted by JAMA Pediatrics.
They found the prevalence of anxiety and depression in teenagers had doubled. It also found older teens and girls were more likely to experience these feelings. Young says it's been harder for kids to connect with other kids during virtual classes.
It's also been difficult for them to pay attention, which could affect grades and ultimately their moods and ultimately how the kids feel about themselves. A lot of kids who were abused in the home who may not have said anything because I finally got a break by going to school. We saw a lot of those issues and concerns. Children who normally would do well. Principal is on a roll list in the class where we're now regressing tremendously. But what we're talking about, Covid and school shutting down and kids having to be at home 24/7, virtually.
They had a bit of an impact, a negative impact as well. Her caseload of kids coming in for help hasn't increased, but it hasn't eased either. Young is expecting to see the number of kids coming into her office rise with the number of cova cases.
Numbers continue rising. And if schools have to shut down, I can almost bet that we will be back. The numbers will go up again. The CDC has a list of things people can do to try to cope with the stress.
That includes relaxing and taking time to talk to loved ones, whether that be on the phone or through zoom, we're all going through it. This is not for each and every one of us. Reach out to someone. Connect with someone. If you feel that those who are in your circle are not relatable. Please reach out to professional help.
We're always here willing to answer any questions or even just listen. Detoxing and spending time with family can only go so far. If you notice a change in your loved ones behavior, please get them help.
This is our worst wave of Covid yet. Louisiana is breaking hospitalization records daily. Young people and children are now targets of this latest variant.
But how long will this surge last? Health care workers and experts take clues from past surges and pandemics to piece together why this one is so dangerous and how long we may be in it. Surge is not like the others. It's bringing in record breaking numbers and taking hospitalizations to a new level. Some people are calling this Louisiana's fourth and worst surge.
But Dr. Louis Minsky with Baton Rouge General Hospital is calling it the fifth viral load that individuals obtain when they're contagious, are infected for the first time. Is that a much greater number? And therefore, the tendency to be sick faster and to be sick and to spread faster as well. And so I think if you compare across all of the major surges, technically, this would be our fifth. Minsky says we first saw the case of Spike in March.
Those stayed around until sometime in May. The combination of the stay at home order and the mask mandate brought the cases down to a manageable level. After that, in the summer, Covid spiked again.
It trailed off toward Labor Day than fall and winter came and we had two more surges, each one slightly worse than the last. But now we're here at the worst wave of Covid. Yet the number of unvaccinated people in Louisiana are driving the numbers high up.
But this time, young people are getting sick and children are dying. Minsky's hospital is overwhelmed by the influx of patients. There are many, many patients in the emergency room.
We are seeing our non Covid patients, as well as many Covid patients. And we have much more hospitalizations in regards to Covid, both on the normal medical floors where the mild to moderate ill are hospitalized. And then our ICU have been beyond capacity for the entire month. We normally have a capacity of about 24 and we have been running. Upwards of 65 to 75 each served is different, but Jeremy Kamil with LSU Health Shreveport says we can guess how long the surge will last or when we'll see new ones by looking at past data. It seems like if they run their natural course, this pandemic's can take at least two years to resolve, quote unquote, on their own and possibly a lot longer.
The Spanish flu pandemic is one of the best examples of this. It lasted for about two years with about three waves hitting before it finally ended. But to get there, you had to reach herd immunity, the ugly way. Or at least that's how Kamil describes it. Which basically means by mass death and economic failure, he thinks we'll see an end to the pandemic in about a year and a half. Just like they did in 1920.
But it'll come with a terrible price that people don't get the vaccine. And that's the scary thing is we don't know. Yet how these changes in the variance affect affect the risk profile for children.
We know that the children are probably less likely to get severely ill than adults are. But the new variants may be infecting them better. We have every reason to expect that the kids will get infected more easily, too. And that's. That certainly should be a little bit concerned about the variance or another similarity we can find in the past. The Spanish flu definitely had those, but they didn't have the technology available to figure out exactly how the virus worked and how it changed itself.
But some experts do believe that it's responsible for the second wave and why it was so deadly. But now, in current times, the new variants are prolonging the pandemic and the surges. We already know that the land of variant has been identified in South Africa.
It's been identified in Louisiana already, although not in large numbers yet. We are learning some of the characteristics. So far, it may not be as contagious as the Delta variant, but it looks like it could be more severe. Probably too early to make those comments stick for for fact just yet, but it's what our early inclination is. There are some differences that set us apart from the Spanish flu of 1918.
We have medicines that can better treat symptoms, but most of all, we have a vaccine if we don't use it. Both Minsky and Kamil say that heartbreak is the only certain result. There wasn't a specific way to tell when the pandemic will end, for sure, but Minsky and Kamil say for certain that not taking the vaccine will only prolong the process. It seemed to set up nicely more vaccinations meant life would return to normal in places like tourist hungry New Orleans, can you get back to business? That was the plan. So what's the mood with the plan changing in this surge? I talked with tourism communications head Kelly Schultz. You know, New Orleans are pretty resilient people, particularly those people who are in the tourism and hospitality industry.
But, you know, it's been tough. What we are experiencing with the surge has been tough on on our community, on our health care workers, on our residents. And it's also been tough for the tourism industry. When we last spoke in Mardi Gras, you know, the city was still under lots of restrictions. There weren't vaccines readily available shortly after Mardi Gras around Easter and spring break, we started to see an uptick in visitors for the first time since March of twenty twenty. It was actually exciting to see visitors getting their vaccinations, feeling confident with traveling, getting back in their cars for road trips or getting on airplanes.
And it certainly was not a full rebound of the tourism industry, but it was nice and refreshing to see. But of course, the the Delta surge is concerning. Jazzfest had to make a tough business decision.
This was not the result of a city restriction. It was something that Jazz Fest had to decide and other festival organizers are deciding. So we're going to move forward. You know, all of us in New Orleans and company are still going to do everything we can to safely drive visitation to the city. But certainly having Jazz Fest canceled was a disappointment, I think, for everyone. It is frustrating.
And the most frustrating thing about it is that now there are vaccines available. Yes. And, you know, we we've said that we hope that this cancelation serves as a wake up call because the people in our community who still choose to remain unvaccinated as long as that continues. We're going to unfortunately see economic damage and the cancelation of more cultural events, things like Jazz Fest that we as New Orleans love to go to. And it employs lots and lots of our neighbors and friends, particularly the musicians. So we're still optimistic that other events can take place.
We do think that this surge is going to hopefully be a temporary situation and will reach the peak soon and that we can get back to some sense of normalcy. Of course, we want everyone in our community to be safe, not just people who are coming here to visit the city. We want our our hospitality workers and all of us who live and work in the city to be safe as well, and to move past this really difficult surge that that we're experiencing, not just in Louisiana , but many places all over the country, unfortunately, are dealing with this as well. Even though some of these festivals have been canceled, in no way does that mean that New Orleans doesn't have its arms open for people to come. Exactly. You know, that's what we want people to know is that there are still things that you can do to come to New Orleans and enjoy yourself in a way that's safe.
Of course, safety is the most important thing. So right now, the city is in a mask mandate. We ask our visitors, when you come, please bring your mask.
Please respect those businesses that ask you to wear your mask, which everyone is doing right now. That's for everyone's safety. So, you know, there may not be the big giant events, but there are still places where you can get live music.
We're in the midst of museum month right now, which is a great opportunity for museum visits. We have our culinary restaurant promotion, which is going on through September 5th. You know, those restaurant tours in particular have been so hard hit with economic damage because of Covid. So we want people to know that they can still safely come to the city of New Orleans and enjoy themselves. In addition to the festivals, one of the things that that is making the fall of 2021 feel optimistic is the scheduling of lots of major conventions that are on the books for this fall. And, you know, we, of course, are getting questions about if those events are still scheduled to occur at this point. They are.
And the point that we're making is that if you think about a business meeting or a convention that is a little bit different than a situation where you have tens of thousands of people at a festival, you know, maybe shoulder to shoulder, you know, singing or drinking or something like that. So we are saying that there are still opportunities for people to come to New Orleans and fulfill their meeting obligations and do so in a way that, again, we're doing social distancing. We're making sure that all of those attendees are safe in a more controlled business setting than you would get in some of these other more casual events.
But, you know, New Orleans is, as you mentioned at the top, resilient New Orleans, Louisiana folks are. And so, you know, you you just keep. Optimistic and keep moving forward and know that eventually things are going to be better. And hopefully it's much sooner than later at this point. Well, you know, we hope so.
And we are a resilient people. And every day we come to work and work so that, you know, the musicians and artists and culture bearers and hotels and restaurant tours and shop owners in the city can make a living and thrive. So that's why we exist. And to preserve this amazing culture that we're fortunate to experience every day and that millions of people want to come and experience from around the world. So there's a little bit of a step back right now, but we're going to keep moving forward and we'll get through this as well.
Kelly, thank you for that. New Orleans and company is what used to be known as the Convention and Visitors Bureau. And everyone that is our show for this week. Remember, you can watch anything lpe be wherever you are, any time with our LVB app.
You can catch L.P news and public affairs shows, as well as other Louisiana programs you've come to enjoy over the years. And please like us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For everyone here at Louisiana Public Broadcasting, I'm Andre’ Moreau.
And I'm Kara St. Cyr. Until next time, that's the state we're at. Entergy is proud to support programing on LP and greener practices that preserve Louisiana. The goal of our environmental and sustainability initiatives really is to ensure that our kids and future generations can be left with a cleaner planet. Additional support provided by the Fred B.
and Ruth B. Ziegler Foundation and the Ziegler Art Museum located in Jennings City Hall. The museum focuses on emerging Louisiana artists and is an historical and cultural center for Southwest Louisiana and the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting with support from viewers like you.