Louisiana State Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R) launched an online petition to give citizens another platform to demand the reopening of the state on a regional basis.
“Our state is diverse and each of our 64 parishes is unique. COVID-19’s impact on Louisiana is affecting each of our parishes and regions differently,” the petition, launched by Hewitt, chairwoman of the Senate Republican Caucus and the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, reads.
“We believe the meaningful reopening of our state’s economy should reflect that. A localized approach is precisely what President Donald Trump has recommended, but our Governor has said this is not under consideration,” it continues.
“The health impact of this pandemic is real, but so is the economic impact. Livelihoods are destroyed with every day that we suffer in a statewide, universal shutdown. It does NOT have to be this way!” the petition adds, stressing that a “parish-by-parish, regional approach to opening Louisiana is the right path forward.”
The petition states:
Every job and local small business is significant to our state. When it comes to job losses, Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit states in the nation. Louisiana currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the entire country. Over the last six weeks, 350,000 of our neighbors have lost their jobs due to this economic shutdown. This means 18.5% of the state’s eligible workforce is currently out of work. Job loss and unemployment also hurt the health of our citizens.
“A long-term statewide, universal shutdown is not sustainable!” it continues, adding that the request is “data-driven”:
A regional approach is a data-driven solution to an unprecedented problem. The data clearly shows that COVID-19 has not impacted each parish/region in the same way with 33 parishes having less than 100 cumulative cases. In fact, the state government is tracking and responding to COVID-19 on a parish-by-parish basis. So, why can’t we reopen based upon this data. Surrounding states are restarting their economies, leaving ALL of Louisiana even further behind?
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has stated that protesters will not move him to change course and that the blanket stay-at-home order will remain in effect until April 30.
“I really don’t need anybody protesting me to tell me that we ought to open up the economy as soon as we can. I get it. Nobody wants to do that more than I do, but as a governor I am going to protect public health and safety,” he stated.
The governor said Louisiana will move into phase one of reopening May 1 if the state meets the criteria. He could announce the details as early as Monday, April 27.
“We’re planning to move forward in Louisiana as we are able to (reopen) if we meet the criteria to move into phase one. It would be nice to go to phase one on May 1,” he said, noting that phase one entails a “gradual easing of public restrictions.”
Louisiana had over 25,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday with 1,473 related deaths. However, cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities are on the decline.