Louisiana COVID-19 cases rise sharply

Workers begin to question workplace safety

March 31, 2020 | Baton Rouge, LA – Coronavirus numbers continue to skyrocket both in the country and in Louisiana. Worldwide, Coronavirus cases are zooming past 800,000.  Close to 40-thousand have died.  
The United States is far and away the leader in the pandemic, partly because Americans are far more mobile and testing has ramped up.  
Confirmed deaths: 2,467 Americans which will top 3,000 by late Tuesday.
In Louisiana, Department of Health numbers Tuesday noon exploded by 1,212 cases overnight with 54 more deaths, the most yet in a 24-hour period.  Fatalities were twice the day before which was twice the day before that.  The escalating figures mean Louisiana remains an epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, particularly in New Orleans.
In his daily press conferences at the Governor’s Office on Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Governor John Bel Edwards remains emphatic that people stay home and out of circulation, keep scrubbing their hands -theirs and their childrens’- and, if someone has to go out, they should wear masks and latex gloves.  
But thousands don’t have the option to stay at home.  Medical personnel, those delivering food and medicine, transportation workers, banks, gas stations, and even baristas at coffee shops are all considered essential.  Many of those workers are beginning to question how to balance their own personal safety with keeping their jobs.  Monday, thousands delivering food for the delivery service “Instacart” went on strike while other strikers walked out at an Amazon warehouse in New York because they say the companies are not doing enough to protect their health.  Tuesday, workers at Whole Foods called for a sick out.  They want paid leave, hazard pay and more testing for Covid-19, the Coronavirus.
“When people have to go to work,” said Governor Edwards, “the way they conduct themselves is the only thing that should give them peace of mind.  They should practice social distancing and all the other safeguards we’ve talked about -hand sanitizing, face masks.  But just because you have to get out and go to work every day doesn’t mean you have to stop at every establishment on the way home.  Just because you can go to the store doesn’t mean you should go every day and it doesn’t mean everybody in your household ought to be going.”   
That’s little comfort to one north Louisiana registered nurse.  Her mother posted on Facebook that her daughter had to quit her medical facility because of the lack of protective gear.  “My daughter is an RN,” she posted.  (We are protecting her identity.) “She has to give her notice.  Not enough protective gear.  Doesn’t want [to take] this virus home to her family.”
The Food and Drug Administration Monday approved a new Coronavirus test that gives results within fifteen minutes.  The new test is now in trials in Detroit but officials say they can ramp up rapidly.  Currently, getting results from coronavirus testing can take days.
But the new test may be too little too late for workers who are now faced with the dilemma of keeping their health while keeping their jobs.


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