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LA should consider nuanced response to virus

In Louisiana’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, policy-makers must keep in mind that not only is it essentially a New Orleans-area problem, but that in per capita terms New Orleans right now is one of the world’s most dangerous hotspots for the disease.

While some elected officials have highlighted Louisiana’s incidence as something like one of the three highest per capita states, most have missed the fact that Orleans Parish has the second-highest rate per capita of any metropolitan county in the country. As of this morning, an astonishing 1 in fewer than 1,700 Orleanians have or had the virus. Extrapolate this nationwide and that would indicate over 193,000 cases when in fact the U.S. has reported only 10,442, and worldwide outside the U.S. the number is about 226,000.

King County, the location of Seattle, WA has drawn the most attention since the virus appeared there first in the U.S. But its incidence ratio is twice as high as Orleans’. The only ratio lower has appeared in Westchester County, NY: with about a million people, it has nearly 800 cases.


Can reformer win LA superintendent job?

At least in one respect business as usual goes on with Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: selecting a new permanent leader.

Recently, the Board proposed a slew of measures related to the closure of schools for a month by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards last week. Essentially, these dismantle all accountability measures for students, educators, schools, and districts. Ironically, this bow to reality for this academic year creates an environment close to what Edwards would want in regards to the issue of accountability, so he will issue the necessary proclamations with relish.

But Edwards, his teacher union allies, and many on the political left would like to see more than just a temporary acceptance of this agenda thrust upon the state by fate, and going beyond that begin with appointing a new state superintendent sympathetic to their views. Longtime superintendent John White – who very much supported an accountability agenda the opposite of Edwards and these others – exited last week, and BESE has begun the process of finding his replacement.


Edwards ban also carries political ends

Never let a crisis go to waste: Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards may wish to see the 2020 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature do as little as possible, and he’s found the circumstance to prompt that.

His latest proclamation dealing with the Wuhan coronavirus until Apr. 13 limits gatherings to 50 people, which undercuts the House of Representatives and its 144 members plus staff. It also puts on the rivet the 39-member Senate, when including staff. Worse for legislators, access to bars and restaurants is cut off except for take-out and delivery of food. Leaders decided to halt proceedings for at least two weeks.

Such a draconian response by Edwards might be necessary for the health and general public as a whole, but it serves a political purpose as well. On its present trajectory, the Legislature is poised to hand Edwards some significant defeats while little of his agenda has any chance of coming to fruition.


Postponement overreach due to other factors

Louisiana postponed its scheduled Apr. 4 elections until late June in part for reasons that have nothing to do with the Wuhan coronavirus declared a pandemic.

Last week, Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin said he would request (under R.S. 18:401.1) for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards to delay these elections through executive order (which he technically he hadn’t done through the weekend just posted). Knocking these back to Jun. 20, with any runoffs to occur Jul. 25, Ardoin justified this by noting the relatively older age of many election commissioners and that voters with certain maladies, both groups having increased risk of contracting the disease, would escape potential exposure to the disease.

Between now and then, eight states will hold primaries or caucuses for at least one major party, along with other elections, but only Georgia at present also has postponed its presidential nominee selections, and only to May 19. That makes more sense on the surface.