Is New Orleans ready to reopen?
The nation’s economy in a free-fall. The death toll continues to shock and climb day after day. All communities are debating if and when it should abandon their severe lockdowns and return to a more restricted business-as-unusual. Currently, the United States is facing an unimaginable 20 percent unemployment. Yet, the deaths now hovering over 80,000. Some experts predict that by Memorial Day, an unthinkable 100,000 people will have died as a result of the coronavirus.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is a progressive Democrat schooled by the Aspen Institute to follow a very left-wing agenda. It should have been no surprise that she visited Cuba to learn about economic development or Ghana to study how to bring a slave ship attraction to New Orleans.
During this Covid-19 crisis, she has not disappointed her liberal benefactors. Every day, her decisions are following their playbook to seize more government control and limit the freedom of the people.
So many Coronavirus economy questions. For now, very few answers. Lots of disappointments. For some, hopefully, a new promising new normal beginning .
Questions such as: Can businesses in this region recover? Are we ready to reopen? Which industries might be the winners? Which could lose?
Michael Hecht, the President of Greater New Orleans Inc seemed optimistic but worried. Hecht has been the face of the region's economic development engine. He moved to the city after Katrina and has been at the center of major developments in the airline, technology, manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, logistics, just to name a few.
The new unemployment numbers are horrific. Another 4.5 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. Since the beginning of this health crisis in March, the total number of unemployed Americans has exceeded 26 million.
Some experts believe the unemployment rate will eventually surpass 20%, nearing the all-time high of 24.9% in 1933, in the middle of the Great Depression.
Roughly one month ago, Louisiana had no coronavirus cases report. Today, the state Department of Health and Hospitals claim there are 10,297 reported, 370 deaths reported, 1707 patients in hospitals, 535 of them on ventilators.
Also, over 53,000 tests have been completed, with 49,608 being done by state labs.
The New Orleans region is one of the nation's top hot spots. In New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, deaths alone amount to 233.
Major new steps to fight the Coronavirus in Louisiana: Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards took additional significant measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana, further limiting the size of gatherings to fewer than 50 people, closing casinos, bars and movie theaters and limiting restaurants to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only. These changes are effective statewide at midnight. Operations may be able to resume on April 13, however, the situation will be reevaluated seven days prior. In Louisiana, there are 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two people have died.
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Thankfully, Mardi Gras 2020 is over. It was a very challenging celebration this year as tragedy struck multiple times. Sadly, two people were killed in separate float accidents. The first one occurred during the Krewe of Nyx, while the second one occurred during the largest Mardi Gras krewe, Endymion. The last accidental death at a Mardi Gras parade occurred in 2008, but, in recent years, this was the first time that two people had accidentally died in the same carnival season.
In 2017, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell made history as the first female to be elected Mayor of New Orleans. She began her tenure the following year and is nearing the mid-point of her four-year term.
At this juncture, it is a good time to reflect on her political standing in New Orleans. Historically, New Orleans Mayors have easily won re-election. The last incumbent Mayor of New Orleans to lose re-election was Robert Maestri in 1946. Without a major scandal, Cantrell will be a strong favorite to win a second term.
It has been three months since the Hard Rock Hotel collapsed on Canal Street, killing three workers and injuring dozens of others. Since that time, lawsuits have been filed, but very little has been done to demolish the partially collapsed building. After the collapse, an effort to demolish two large cranes on the building site only partially succeeded as one crane is still dangling from the side of the building. To make matters worse, the bodies of two dead construction workers remain in the building.