Published 6:04 PM EDT Mar 26, 2020
COVID-19 cases line the I-20 corridor
With the first confirmed case in Madison Parish on Thursday, north Louisiana has cases in every parish along Interstate 20.
Ouachita Parish was the first parish in NELA to confirm a case on Saturday. Richland and Lincoln parishes then followed. Grayson Police Department reported Caldwell’s first confirmed case on Thursday afternoon.
More: Ouachita COVID-19 cases jump to 19; Madison, Morehouse Lincoln numbers climb
Three NELA parishes — East Carroll, West Carroll and Tensas — do not yet have confirmed cases.
Two have died in NELA
Two COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in Ouachita Parish. A 38-year-old Catahoula Parish resident died on March 18, and a 56-year-old Sterlington resident died Sunday.
As of Thursday, the Catahoula Parish man is among the youngest in the state to die from COVID-19.
More: Here are ages of Louisiana COVID-19 patients who died and where they lived
Helpers are everywhere
In tough times, residents of northeast Louisiana have worked together to overcome challenges.
Volunteers are sewing face masks for area hospitals and first responders and are delivering meals to medical professionals on the front lines in the COVID-19 fight.
More: Louisiana Delta Community College instructors lend a hand
Additional help is still needed.
Area hospitals and healthcare providers are in desperate need of blood due to a supply shortage and personal protective equipment. Visit LifeShare Blood Center in Monroe at 2909 Kilpatrick Boulevard to donate blood.
Food is also needed at the Salvation Army to help meet the demands of full-time housing and meal prep for the homeless population.
The Salvation Army in Monroe is staying open 24/7 due to the statewide stay-at-home order. The shelter is at capacity with 50 residents and preparing an additional meal per day with limited food supplies and limited access to bulk purchases.
To support the Monroe Corps online, visit Give.SalvationArmyALM.org/HopeNotFear.
Two Ouachita city halls were forced to close
The city of Monroe confirmed Wednesday night an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Monroe City Hall and Monroe City Court temporarily shuttered for deep cleaning and sanitation. These facilities are expected to reopen on Monday to employees only.
More: Monroe City Hall, court close as employee tests positive for COVID-19
On Tuesday, Sterlington’s Town Hall closed until April 8 after Mayor Caesar Velasquez entered self-quarantine. A town meeting scheduled for Tuesday night was canceled.
Velasquez was reportedly exposed to someone who was potentially exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.
More: BREAKING: Sterlington mayor entering self-quarantine; town cancels Tuesday meeting
COVID-19 will impact revenue for local municipalities
Since Monday, a statewide stay-at-home order has been in place and forced nonessential Louisiana business to shutter until April 13..
Crowd sizes are limited to 10, and restaurants are limited to pickup orders and drive-thru orders only.
Because of closures coupled with a nationwide economic slowdown, local municipalities are bracing for revenue declines.
In the city of Monroe, Mayor Jamie Mayo said Monday that projections for revenue impacts due to COVID-19 are not yet available, but the city is preparing.
More: Coronavirus revenue impact unclear as Monroe council considers $61.1M budget
“We do know and feel it will impact the overall revenue,” Mayo said. “We know people are going to grocery stores. They are going to pharmacies and doing other things we categorize as essential services, but at the same time, there are so many who are not working now. There are businesses that are closing right now because of some of the challenges we are having.”
The crisis is hitting Monroe at the end of one fiscal year on April 30 and may spread into the next fiscal year, impacting two budget cycles.
A decline in sales tax revenue will impact many other local cities, towns and school districts.
Meanwhile, essential businesses throughout the region are adapting by limiting hours and disinfecting stores, and many restaurants expanded or launched pickup options to stay open.
Other workers are telecommuting from home.
More: Share your stay-at-home photos with The News-Star
More: Local businesses cut services, voluntarily close as COVID-19 spreads
More: Local restaurants shift to pickup only, brace for losses
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