Local officials welcome Phase 1, but urge caution

Local officials welcome Phase 1, but urge caution

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Many in Southwest Louisiana are looking forward to Phase 1 of Louisiana's reopening starting tomorrow.

But at today's Calcasieu Parish briefing, even public officials who support reopening are urging citizens to heed advice aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

On the eve of the Phase 1 reopening, people are urged to continue hygiene and safety measures such as hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso knows people are more than ready, “our public, we could not ask any more from our public than what we have asked them for this. They have been patient; they have been tolerant. Our business owners, oh, my God. I can't even describe the pain that they have gone through, and what they have endured. And we're trying to open this up and visit these establishments but do it with caution."

As his office opens, he'll have measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Meetings with citizens will be by appointment only and they plan to wear masks.

"We have to watch that and be careful of that for each other. It's not just ‘if I go around shaking everybody's hands and I catch it and I start giving it people,’ like you said Dr. Cavanaugh, without people knowing, then, we're just going to regress and go backwards and that's what we don't want to do. We have worked so hard to get to where we are."

Lake Charles Mayor, Nic Hunter, agrees, saying Phase 1 is of great importance to the community's future.

"The worst thing that we could do is throw caution to the wind and say that Phase 1 equates to COVID-19 is not serious anymore and we could get back to business as usual. That would be the worst thing we could do because we could see a spike in cases. We don't want to see it because it's not safe and healthy for our citizens. And we also don't want to see it because it's going to interrupt our progress."

Also, Denise Durel with United Way says they are doing a survey to help assess if people are getting the help they need. The United Way survey will be underway for nine days.

They are also working on another food giveaway in June.

The next Calcasieu briefing will be in two weeks, unless there’s a major development.

Watch the entire briefing from May 14, below.

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