Lake Charles Mayor gives update on city resources during COVID-19 outbreak

Lake Charles Mayor gives update on COVID-19
Lake Charles Mayor gives update on COVID-19((Source: KPLC))
Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 9:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s been almost two weeks since Southwest Louisiana announced its first case of COVID-19 and that number now tops 90, with most of those cases in Calcasieu Parish.

With Calcasieu Parish leading the area, it leads many to question, is social distancing working? or are people actually playing by those rules?

“There’s not a single business in Calcasieu Parish or SWLA that hasn’t been affected by this.”

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter spoke Tuesday about the city's response to the pandemic.

“As soon as the governor’s order was issued, we complied with that order," said Hunter. "That doesn’t mean the city is not operating...we have public safety, water, sewer, transit..that we just can’t cancel, so we’re being overly cautious with those agencies.”

It’s also a cautionary tale for those using public transportation.

“We are limiting the number of riders on a bus, roping off seats on the bus..intense cleanings where a contractor comes in once a day with a bio-cleaning device," Hunter said.

Since then, the necessary actions have been taken to move forward as the fluid situation occurs, including shutting down city buildings, identifying high-risk city employees, and ensuring pay to employees through these uncertain times.

According to Hunter, those issues are at the top of the agenda especially for small businesses, which play a big role in the Lake Charles workforce.

“We have had countless conversations with state counterparts about the recent CARES act passed by congress,” said Hunter.

It's estimated that Louisiana will receive close to $2 million from the CARES word yet on how much of that will trickle down to local governments. Overall, Hunter says the money will be there in the long run but there is an immediate need that most businesses are having to address.

“There is going to be enormous amounts of help within that bill for local businesses but the immediate need is their health and safety.”

Within the last week, more than 72,000 Louisiana residents have signed up for unemployment benefits. In a typical week, the total is closer to 2,000.

Governor Edwards said he expects the state will have access to $1.8 Billion within 30 days.

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