COVID-19 Updates: WHO Pronounces Global Pandemic, Louisiana and New Orleans Declare Emergencies, European Travel Ban, and More

Photo courtesy of US Army

There was a rush of announcements and news related to COVID-19 on Wednesday. Let’s catch you up:

WHO Declares a Pandemic

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, a global pandemic. The virus has affected at least 114 countries and killed 4,000 people. In the US, there are currently 938 cases, and 29 people have died. Louisiana currently has 13 presumptive positive cases.

“This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It is also the first time the WHO has declared a pandemic since the H1N1 “swine flu” outbreak of 2009.

“WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases,” Tedros said. “And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

Louisiana and New Orleans Declare State of Emergency

On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards declared a public health state of emergency as the number of presumptive positive cases grew to 13, with patients now in Orleans, Jefferson, Iberia, Caddo, Lafourche and St. Tammany parishes. Edwards said the spread of the virus to additional areas of the state is concerning.

“That’s why we issued a statewide emergency declaration and why we’re asking everyone to follow precautions,” Edwards said. “It’s important because it will reduce your risk of exposure and the risk of spread to others. It is worrisome.” Edwards said he expected the number of cases to continue to increase over time.

Mayor Latoya Cantrell also issued a declaration of emergency for the city due to impacts from COVID-19. The majority of COVID-19 cases have been declared in Orleans Parish, and that number is expected to grow, Cantrell said.

“We knew that number would grow, and we expect it to grow even further,” Cantrell said at a press conference Wednesday evening. Earlier in the week, the mayor ordered all public weekend events, including Super Sunday, canceled.

Local Universities Go Virtual

On Wednesday, the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, Xavier University, and Loyola University each announced that in-person classes would be transitioned to virtual beginning Monday. Delgado College is not suspending face-to-face instruction at this time.

European Travel Banned for 30 Days

President Trump announced on Wednesday night that travel to and from the Schengen zone of Europe will be suspended for 30 days beginning Friday at midnight. That area includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. American citizens and US permanent residents will receive exceptions and will be allowed back into the US during this time.

Following his announcement, Trump tweeted that he misspoke during his speech, and there will be no ban on trade or cargo, saying, “very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.”

Trump has also canceled his scheduled trips to Colorado and Nevada this week.

“Out of an abundance of caution from the coronavirus outbreak, the President has decided to cancel his upcoming events in Colorado and Nevada,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.

NBA Suspends Season

After Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA announced that they will suspend the rest of the season.

Earlier in the week, Gobert was seen intentionally touching all of the microphones at a Utah Jazz presser, leading teammates and journalists to become concerned that they could potentially be infected as well.

Twitter Employees to Work from Home

Twitter announced via their website that all employees globally will be required to work from home. “We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times. And we will continue to do all that we can to support our Tweeps,” the statement said.

Ellen to Film Without Studio Audience

Ellen Degeneres alow announced via Twitter that she will be filming her show with no studio audience.

“I have some news. For now, I’ll be shooting my show with no studio audience. To everone who was looking forward to coming, I’m so sorry. But I’m doing this for the health of my fans, my staff, & my crew. (It has nothing to do with a warrant for my arrest in the state of Florida.),” the tweet read.

NCAA’s March Madness, Big 12, and Big Ten to be Played Without Fans

The NCAA announced that the Big 12 and Big Ten conferences will be played without fans in attendance. NCAA president Mark Emmert also announced that the popular “March Madness” tournament will be held with essential staff and family members only, suggesting that the conferences follow suit.

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans specializing in politics and social justice issues. In 2019, she was given the title of “Most Fearless” by The Bayou Brief. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *