COVID-19 Updates: A Postponed Election, School Closures, Relief for Workers, and More

Photo By Gage Skidmore

It has been another busy day in COVID-19 related news here in Louisiana and across the country. Let’s get you caught up:

Louisiana April 4 and May 9 Elections Postponed

On Friday, Louisiana became the first state in the country to postpone an election due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The April 4 presidential primary and local elections will be delayed until June 20th. In addition, the municipal general elections scheduled for May 9 will be delayed until July 25.

“The two-month delay of this election will continue to allow our office to procure necessary supplies to put our state in best possible posture for the time when this election is conducted,” said Louisiana Secretary of State Kylee Ardoin. Ardoin also stated that the delay is especially prudent given that over half of Louisiana’s election commissioners are 65 or older, putting them at higher risk of infection.

Louisiana Schools Closed Until April 13

Governor John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation closing all public K-12 schools from March 16 until April 13th. The Catholic Church followed suit, closing all parochial schools in Louisiana for 30 days as well. According to Edwards, this was the “toughest” decision to make, as around 71 percent of Louisiana public school students come from economically disadvantaged families.

To lessen the burden on families, schools have been directed to keep their cafeterias open and continue providing meals if they are able to do so “with appropriate social distancing measures.”

“I know some difficult decisions are going to have to be made, but I am asking everyone to do everything they can to keep themselves and their families safe.

Residential Evictions, Utility Shutoffs Suspended

The First and Second City Courts have suspended all residential evections until April 24, 2020. In addition, Entergy has stated that they will halt some customer disconnections for the next 30 days, provided nonpayment is the result of the coronavirus.

“We’re continuing to monitor the situation and will extend if necessary,” Entergy officials said. “We’ll be working directly with customers to confirm their impact and to make payment arrangments if they are unable to pay in full.”

In addition, Cox Communications has also signed on to the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” agreeing that they will not terminate services to small business or residential customers due to an inability to pay due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Companies signing the pledge also agreed to waive any late fees that those customers incur.

Pelosi Announces Deal on Coronavirus Relief Plan, Trump Declares National Emergency

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced this afternoon that an agreement has been reached on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

“We are proud to have reached an agreement with the Administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” Pelosi said in a “dear colleague” letter.

The announcement came shortly after President Donald Trump announced that he was declaring a national emergency an invoking the Staford Act, freeing up $50 billion in federal resources in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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_

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