Report from Louisiana: Covid Fatigue

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – This probably won’t be a popular opinion, but I have to be honest.

I am sick and tired of losing good people to coronavirus. A very good man died this week from Covid-19; he was 57 and had recently retired from teaching. He was a popular high school football coach during his career and highly regarded by his peers. He leaves behind a father, a brother, a sister, and two children.

My friend is but one example of the hundreds dead from this virus.

You can tell me that these people died from their comorbidities, from sepsis, from heart attack, whatever; the point is, they’d be alive still had they not contracted the coronavirus.

Another good friend of mine came down with Covid-19 over the Christmas break. She is in her 50s, and in excellent health. She has mostly recovered from her illness but is still recovering from the double pneumonia Covid brought to her. She’s being closely monitored for blood clots.

My stepson, a nurse, caught Covid from a patient. Young and in excellent health, he suffered greatly and was hospitalized for a week. Because the hospitals are full, he spent over 30 hours in the ER waiting for a room

I know people that I otherwise thought were intelligent, educated professionals who are refusing the vaccine because they’re convinced that the government is injecting something into them through the virus.

I can no longer pretend understanding for people who think the virus is a politically motivated hoax. Even those who believe government officials are using the virus for nefarious gain – to tank the economy, to promote themselves, whatever.

I have been called “delusional” because I believe the virus is real and that it will kill you. I do not care. Names do not hurt me.

I believe in the science.

Period.

And I am tired of watching friends suffer or die because people won’t wear a mask, are tired of wearing a mask, or think masks are stupid and useless. I am tired of parents sending their kids to school sick, while they wait on test results to come back. I am exhausted for the health care workers putting in twelve hour shifts laboring day after day to save people who are drowning in their own fluids because someone else thought this virus was a political tool.

We are so busy trying to solve the immediate crisis that we aren’t thinking too much about the coming mental health toll all this will bring.

Over the holiday season I have seen my social media filled with people gathering with family, extended family, and friends. I’ve seen photos of New Years celebrations, baby showers, football playoff parties, and birthday celebrations. And now the case numbers are higher than they’ve ever been. Go figure.

Deaths are rising too.

I know that people have to work, that the economy has to keep going. I get that. I see the benefit having the schools open has on our children.

But I’m past being patient with people who are too selfish to wear a mask and maybe save someone’s life.

I’m looking at the children of my friend who died yesterday and wondering how they will ever understand this.

Wear your mask. Get your vaccine. Let’s just please do our part to help end this and we can analyze conspiracy theories later.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: The Vaccine

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Happy New Year! We are spending the holiday in south Louisiana in our cabin on Bayou Teche. Because I will be driving back on Sunday and back at work on Monday, I’m writing this post on the actual first day of the year. We just finished our traditional “good luck” New Year’s meal which of course includes cabbage and black eyed peas. I also cooked a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with andouille sausage and shrimp. We are sitting pretty fat and happy right now.

I took a moment to check some emails today and I see where the school system will soon be offering the Covid-19 vaccine for teachers and school staff. The vaccine should be available to us in the next couple of weeks. Am I going to take it? You bet I am. Sign me up. We will be getting the Moderna vaccine, I am told.

I’m so sick of this virus and the limitations it has put on everyone. I guess it varies somewhat from state to state, but honestly the restrictions that so many business owners must face seem so absurd. For example, we drove over the levee this morning to stop by Turtle’s Bar which is on the Atchafalaya Basin. The swamp is beautiful at any time of year, but there is something about it in the winter that just draws me.

Steve asked Tanya, the bartender, “Well! Did y’all have fun last night?” because, of course, New Year’s Eve, right?

“Yeah,” she said, “until 11:00.” Bars in Louisiana are required to close at 11:00. Because apparently the virus does not spread until after 11?  Who knows? We were the only people in there at that hour, along with one other guy and with the exception of the people who live on houseboats there that walk up to her window to place an order.

We stood at the bar and swapped stories for a while, and I tried to pull up one of the bar stools to sit down. “Oh, you can’t do that!” Tanya said. “It’s against regulations because of Covid. You can’t sit at the bar.” But…you can stand at the bar and that is okay. 

Even stranger – the bartender can serve you at the bar but she can’t walk over to your table and serve you. You have to walk to the bar to get your drink, and you have to wear a mask when you walk to the bar, but once you sit back down, you can take it off again.

It all borders on the absurd.

I have several musician friends who were at home last night, without a gig, for the first time in their careers. No live music is allowed.

But hey, the casinos are apparently non-viral zones because all of our local riverboat casinos are in full swing.

The numbers for new cases and hospitalizations are higher now than they have ever been. I have more friends now who are sick than I ever have. One of my best friends has had fever for two solid weeks now and it runs about 102 even taking Tylenol and Advil every three hours. She has no taste or smell and says it’s the worst she’s ever felt in her life. Her husband is a heart patient and he has recently tested positive as well. I’m quite concerned for both of them.

I’m ready for people to be able to get back to work, for businesses to reopen and recover, and for the music to begin again. I’m ready to see full sports stadiums and concerts. I’m ready to teach school mask-free and to see my students’ faces and smiles again.

So, yes, I’ll take the vaccine. I’m not concerned. Bring it on.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Wuhan Diary

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As an avid and constant reader, I decided to do the Reading Challenge on Goodreads again this year; last year I set the lofty goal of 100 books and missed the mark with 63 out of 100 books.

This year, because of the pandemic, probably, I did better. I set a lower goal of 75 books and so far I’ve read 82. I’ll probably be at 83 by the end of the year.

Currently I am reading Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang, which is the collected dispatches, or posts, from the renown Chinese author during the 76 days of the Wuhan lockdown. While most of us are tired of Covid, tired of reading about Covid, and tired of all things Covid, I am enjoying the book.

To me, it is interesting to see what it was like in Wuhan in the days after the pandemic broke. Fang Fang’s frustration with the situation is evident and she is well aware that the government censors are reading and taking down her posts. Her readers would screenshot the posts and share them via text message to each other, and in many ways she became the voice of the pandemic in Wuhan as people in lockdown were starved for information that was not filtered for them.

Her frustration with the initial position that the virus is not contagious from person to person is clear. She does not mince words, despite the censors. As the lockdown in Wuhan drags on, it has been interesting to read how neighbors worked together to supply each other with fresh food, medicines, and supplies.

The book also shows that we are not all that different; Fang Fang loses many friends and colleagues to the virus; she deals with the same problems we all have: shortages, misinformation, isolation.  She worries a great deal about the mental health issues that result from the lockdown and she worries about the marginalized who cannot get medical treatment, especially in the earlier days before the temporary hospitals were constructed.

She also has very relatable problems, like running out of dog food. (She cooked rice for her dog when this happened.)

Sometimes she even challenges the censors. She wants to be seen as a witness, not necessarily a critic. As a result, her voice is honest, and heartbreakingly real.

I’m not finished with the book yet, but I do recommend it. Somehow it seems fitting to end this year of the pandemic with Wuhan Diary.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: NOLA Mayor attacks Christian Singer Lauren Daigle

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As Louisiana politicians go, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is on her way to being as infamous as any of them.

Cantrell has come under criticism for her harsh economic restrictions in response to Covid-19 in New Orleans compared to the rest of the state.  She has placed stringent restrictions on high school athletic events which likely contributed to the Louisiana High School Football Playoffs relocating their games from the Superdome in New Orleans to Natchitoches, Louisiana at Northwestern State University.  Her tough occupancy restrictions for the Superdome would not enable many fans in the stadium; conditions are more favorable in Natchitoches; this move will cost New Orleans a chunk of tourism dollars from the multiday event.

In her latest move, Cantrell has verbally attached Christian singer and Louisiana native Lauren Daigle for spontaneously singing at a French Quarter protest last month.

The rally was a pop-up Let Us Worship rally staged by Californian Sean Feucht who has been doing this all across the country to protest Covid restrictions on churches and worship services. Daigle, who lives near the French Quarter, was reportedly riding her bike in the area, stopped, and when she was recognized and asked to sing, she complied. Naturally, it hit social media as a clip was posted by Feucht, and the firestorm began.

The protest “flouted coronavirus restrictions.”  Participants were “not wearing masks.” There “were thousands of people there.” There were “hundreds of people there.” Daigle “endangered first responders.” Criticism rained down.

Mayor Cantrell lashed out at Daigle in a December 9 letter which she wrote to Dick Clark Productions – the organization organizing the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve event which was to spotlight New Orleans in an eight-minute segment of the broadcast.

Cantrell asked that Daigle not be involved with the broadcast because of her participating in the protest at the French Quarter. Cantrell wrote,

“Miss Daigle cannot and should not be rewarded with national media exposure and a public spotlight. She harmed our people, she risked the lives of our residents, and she strained our first responders in a way that was unconscionable – in the midst of a public health crisis. That is not who we are, and she cannot be allowed to represent New Orleans or the people she willfully endangered.”

Daigle responded to the kerfuffle last week with a statement which said, in part:

“I’m disappointed that my spontaneous participation has become part of the political discourse and I’m saddened by the divisive agendas of these times. I would have been, and still would be, honored to represent our city on New Year’s Eve and although I was aware of discussions regarding my involvement, an offer was never made. I have wept, pleading for this chaos to dissipate and for harmony to return. We need unity when people are desperate, suffering, starving or out of work.”

Mayor Cantrell’s attack on Daigle has been criticized by Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser who oversees tourism for the state. His office has pulled their financial subsidy for the city’s participation in the NYE event. In response, the city of New Orleans will pony up the $500,000 from their own “cultural fund.” This move has drawn criticism from some city council members who would rather spend the money locally in support of local artists, but the mayor contends that the national exposure is more important.

It’s all a huge mess, and really quite unnecessary.

Cantrell’s rush to criticize Daigle seems misplaced. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry sent a letter of support to Daigle should she and Dick Clark Productions choose to “relocate the event” to “more hospitable areas of the state.” He reminded her that Cantrell has previously allowed protests in the city, including a Black Lives Matter protest this summer. And the Naught Nawlins swinger convention was allowed to go ahead, which incidentally resulted in a Covid outbreak.

In light of that, Cantrell’s criticism seems rather harsh, and it does seem that she could be costing her city some tourism dollars in times when they are most needed.

I’ve never listened to Lauren Daigle’s music very much, but I think I’m going to give her a listen. And I will not be watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Church

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I grew up in the Episcopal church; I went to Sunday School, was confirmed, sang in the choir, the whole thing. As I got older, and busier, and my focus became diverted in the wrong directions sometimes, I quit going. And when you stop going to church on Sunday, it’s really hard to get back in the swing of it.

For a variety of reasons, my husband believes “the end times are upon us,” or very near, and so he wanted to start going back to church. He’s not crazy or a zealot – he’s just retired and has a lot of time on his hands where he reads too much social media. If that won’t convince you that the devil is knocking on the door, nothing will.

Long story short, we have been attending services at the church where I grew up for the past several weeks, and I’ve found that I am actually enjoying it. Part of my reluctance about returning to St. Paul’s was not the church itself, but the memories within. So many of the people I loved that I share memories with there are gone…my mother, my godmother, my godfather, various members of the congregation, some favorite Sunday school teachers, the exuberant piano player who led us in song in the children’s choir….

And the memories have been hard to face. So many Christmases in that church, red poinsettias lining the altar. The traditional Christmas songs.

I get so sentimental this time of year anyway, and returning to the stomping grounds of my youth have been…challenging, but so worth it.

I’m making new memories there, remembering happy times, and I know those I miss so much would be glad I am there. And in a way, they are there with me, still.

One thing I’ve noticed, I’ve been so shocked at how low the attendance numbers are compared to what I remember. Obviously part of this is because of the pandemic, but I know just from the church directory that just came out that numbers are nowhere near what I remember. Is this the case everywhere? Do people not go to church anymore? I live in the South where pretty much everyone is either a Baptist or a Catholic, and I can say for certain that the Baptist church that I pass on the way to the Episcopal church is packed with cars.

I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, I guess. Maybe people stay home and do church on the internet.

Side note: the first Sunday my husband and I attended, about four weeks ago, our Rector announced his retirement later this year and the formation of the Rector Search Committee. I was really sad, because he’s been there for decades and is very popular.

The next Sunday, literally the next week, the bright, young, Assistant Rector announced that he has been transferred to another church; he and his family are being sent to Texas.

So. We were sort of scared to go back on week three, because….who else would be leaving?! But, things have been quiet since then and nobody else has hit the door.

Y’all have a good week, enjoy the Christmas season, and don’t get bogged down in the little stuff.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Treading Water

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I know you are with me when I reiterate I will be so glad when this pandemic is over.

Everyone is dealing with this in their own way: the anti-maskers, the maskers, the “no-way-will-I-take-that-vaccine” people, to the ones who say bring it on. Has any disease ever so divided a people or become so politicized as this one?

And I know people are working from home, working on the front lines, and everything in between. I can only tell you about what I see in the schools.

I teach in a Title 1 high school with an enrollment of around 600, give or take. As with most places nationwide, our Covid numbers are surging once again. The only number I really pay attention to is the hospitalizations number.

In August, on the day school started, our hospitalization number was 536. I wrote it down. As of today, December 7, our hospitalization number is 1392.

Our district is 100% face to face every single day, although there is a virtual option offered for those who want to be 100% virtual. There are some who do that. I have about twenty kids in each of my English II classes. Friday, I have five kids present in fourth block. Five. Everyone else was absent or in quarantine. We had twelve teachers in quarantine Friday, and our faculty has about 60 teachers.

Because of the Family Medical Leave Act, teachers have ten excused Covid days but these expire in December, unlike the virus itself, and nobody seems to be talking about renewing that.

One of the things that worries me is that Pete hired me to make a contribution to this blog, and I often feel like I’m giving him (and you) short shrift, but damn, I’m trying to keep my head above water here, and I know you understand. I am simultaneously teaching kids online through Google classroom who are absent from class, teaching my in-person kids, covering classes for teachers that are out, pulling together makeup assignments, cleaning and sanitizing my classroom, Chromebooks, and high touch surfaces.

Our state is continuing on with high stakes End of Course testing in January (we are on block schedule so one semester ends in January and another will begin), and I have to get whatever kids are here ready for that and help the absent ones get caught up.

It’s madness.

So, bear with me if my posts right now are too Covid, too teacher focused. Today is Pearl Harbor Day and I really wanted to write something beautiful about that and call attention to this date. My mind isn’t working in the direction I want it to, so that post is just not coming together.

We’re all just doing the best we can right now, aren’t we?

Thanks for your patience with me!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: The Social Dilemma

By:  Pat Austin   

SHREVEPORT – Most of the time I feel like we are living in a dystopian universe.  If you watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix you might agree.  Absolutely terrifying.

Come sit in a high school classroom for any length of time and you’ll see the problem that is social media. In my school, the English teachers got together and decided to all take up phones before class each day. You put your phone in in the box before you enter class and they are returned at the end of class. Otherwise, I promise you, kids are staring at their phones and not doing their classwork. There are varying degrees of this truth depending on what school and how motivated the student population is in general.

The Social Dilemma docudrama makes the point that we have an entire generation of kids more anxious, more depressed than ever before due to social media. They are so bound up in that instant gratification from “Likes” and “Shares” that for so many their entire self-worth is connected to this. I see this daily.

This is a subject that has interested me for a long time; when Matt Richtel’s book, A Deadly Wandering, came out in 2014, I eagerly developed lessons around it, shared it with my students, and tried to reinforce its thesis, to no avail. Students thought it was crazy. It’s the “they aren’t taking to ME” syndrome: “I don’t have this problem.”

Social media is so insidious, so pervasive, so much a part of our lives, and we all know it. But we don’t stop. We are so absolutely dependent on it. It controls us.

Nearly everyone has had this experience, or something similar: you are driving by a store…say, Lowe’s, or Home Depot. You say out loud, “Oh, I need to go one day and get a new ladder!” What kind of ads show up on your social media feed next time you go online?

True story: I was outside one day with three friends. One person had a device around her neck with little fans at each end that blew air toward her face and she used this while gardening in our southern heat and humidity. Friend number two said something like, “Oh, that’s cool! Does it work well?” Friend no 1 assured her it worked great. End of conversation. I never uttered a word. What kind of ads were on my social media when I opened Facebook later that afternoon?  Why, ads for little fans you wear around your neck, of course.

Paranoid? Nope. This happens all the time.

Last week I saw one of those ads on Facebook for some shirt with a dragonfly design. I did not click on it. I did linger for a moment, looking at the photo. Now, dragonfly shirts are all over my feed.

This sort of thing is a tiny example of how social media controls and influences us. It is enough for me to want to pull a Travis McGee, unplug from everything, and go off the grid.

Now watch, Travis McGee books will be all over my feed.

Watch The Social Dilemma. It’s an eye opener.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Governor Wins another Challenge

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As Covid cases across the nation soar, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is batting a perfect score so far on legal challenges to his statewide restrictions such as the mask mandate and tough limits on bars and restaurants.

Last week, a Baton Rouge judge sided with the governor in a challenge by House Republicans; Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed the petition by 65 of the 68 House Republicans which demanded the restrictions imposed by the governor be lifted:

Sixty-five of 68 House Republicans last month used an obscure 2003 law passed during the SARS pandemic to send a petition to Gov. John Bel Edwards directing him to cancel his virus restrictions. Morvant ruled the law in question violates the state Constitution because it doesn’t involve both chambers of the Legislature, instead allowing the House or Senate to act on their own.…Morvant said the governor’s emergency powers, granted to him by the Legislature, allow him to make decisions that have the force of law. To repeal, enact, or alter a state law, the entire Legislature — including the House and the Senate — must agree.

And so, we remain masked. That being said, Louisiana is not spiking in Covid numbers at the moment as quickly as the rest of the nation, although many feel that is coming. Numbers are rising; both case numbers and hospitalizations.

In a sign of the times, the hearing was held via Zoom; Republican lawmakers had been sharing the Zoom link on social media for days. Apparently the entire state was in the meeting and a couple of people managed to slip through the mute button and join in. The result was hysterical:

Such are the frustrations of high-stakes court hearings set in the year 2020. Morvant and the cadre of attorneys were arguing via the videoconferencing software Zoom, and only lawyers were supposed to have the ability to speak. Apparently, a member of the public had slipped through the cracks and unmuted himself. “Snide comments coming from the peanut gallery,” Morvant clarified, “are not going to be appreciated by this court.”

“Our state needs to be open,” the unidentified man said.

“If we were in open court, I would hold you in contempt and have you removed,” Morvant said, becoming agitated. “If you say anything else in this Zoom hearing, I will have you removed.”

The man kept speaking. Morvant made good on his promise. “Have that person removed,” he said. A staffer obliged.

As Morvant was taking up a series of procedural moves in the middle of the hearing, a strange noise emanated from the Zoom meeting, stopping everyone in their tracks.

“I don’t know what that was,” said Liz Murrill, Landry’s top deputy.

“I don’t either,” Morvant replied. “I wasn’t the one that invited the entire state to participate.”

Sign of the times.

As the holidays approach and numbers continue to climb, we are expecting more restrictions from our esteemed Governor and rumors about school closings are epic. I don’t want to speculate on that right now…I’ll wait and see. I feel like that’ll be coming down soon enough.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: #AmReading

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Sick of politics?  Tired of reading about the coronavirus?  There are some great new book releases coming out this month that you should check out. One’s a mystery, one is chick-lit, and one is a classic collection of essays: something for everyone!

First, Michael Connelly is back with his Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller. The Law of Innocence is Haller at his best as he is apparently framed for a murder and then must defend himself in court….from jail. We have all the familiar characters that we’ve come to know and love in a Haller story: Lorna, Cisco, and even Harry Bosch lends a hand. The frame against Haller looks pretty airtight and Connelly keeps you guessing all the way to the end.

I love Michael Connelly because as prolific as he is, his stories never get stale or predictable. The Law of Innocence comes out November 10.

Also coming out on the tenth is a chick-lit romp in The First Time We Met by Jo Lovett. Sometimes you just need something light and meaningless and while I don’t read a lot of chick-lit, I did review this one for NetGalley and enjoyed it. Izzy is our protagonist; she meets Sam on his wedding day and of course he is the one and only for her. The novel covers decades and is set on two continents, but Izzy and Sam remain linked. There are the obligatory best-friend characters that add to the mix. Predictable? Sometimes. Fun? Yep.  If chick-lit is your thing, check this one out.

On a more serious note, The Glorious American Essay comes out November 17, and is edited by Phillip Lopate. This is truly one I have got to have on my shelves in my personal collection. It includes essays from Colonial times to the present. Here you can find essays from the Founding Fathers, Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, to name a few. It’s a beautiful collection and is perhaps the definitive collection of the American essay. I absolutely loved this one and will probably give it for Christmas to several people on my list.

I recently finished reading Kerri Arsenault’s Mill Town and I highly recommend it as well. It is part memoir and part investigation into what is causing high cancer rates in her Maine hometown. The obvious culprit is the paper mill and the dioxin it produces. Arsenault has a quiet, gentle “voice” and her diligent, prodding investigation runs from local interviews with townsfolk to the DEQ basement archives. I was engrossed in this one from beginning to end.

What are you reading? I need recommendations! Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Sticking our heads in the sand

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana is a land of many quirky laws, and leave it to our state legislators to pull out one of those to force an end to Governor John Bel Edwards public health emergency executive orders.

House Republicans have been chafing over the mask mandate for months, along with many of the other restrictions put in place by Governor Edwards on crowd sizes and which businesses can open and under what capacity.

At the end of the special legislative session last week, House GOP lawmakers used a petition against these orders to have them nullified.

From KATC news:

A statement from the house reads, “At no time since the start of the pandemic has the governor taken meaningful steps to address legislative concerns in any substantive way,” the release states. “The Legislature will make no apologies for simply standing up for the people we collectively represent. The House has exhausted every available legislative remedy and has been left with no other option but to exercise its legislative right to terminate the Governor’s emergency order.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landy issued the following statement:

“The emergency powers act and the emergency health powers act are written to outline what extraordinary powers are granted to the Governor during a declared emergency. A termination clause is included outlining a simple process for pressing the stop button. Immediately upon termination, the emergency powers cease and the Governor’s powers revert to the ordinary powers afforded the Governor as outlined by our Constitution and laws. The termination process is effective immediately, unless provided otherwise in the petition, when a petition is signed by a majority of the surviving members within either body of the Legislature, the Senate or the House. The termination of emergency powers does not require any additional action other than the signed petition. Upon completion of the signed petition, the Governor is directed to issue a proclamation informing the public of the termination.”

And so, controversy continues.

State Representative Alan Seabaugh spoke with KEEL Radio News, saying:

“A petition signed by a majority of members can end the public health emergency at any time,” Seabaugh says, referring to the process invoked, “Essentially, we’ve ended the public health emergency. John Bel (Edwards) doesn’t want to acknowledge that we have that power. He said at his news conference Friday, ‘I’m not going to give up my power.’ Well, it’s not his power, it’s our power (and) we gave it to him and we took it back.”

Governor Edwards calls the petition and lifting of restrictions reckless, and said “You know burying heads in the sand and just pretending that COVID isn’t a problem, isn’t going to help.”

With cases expected to rise in the coming cooler months, many are worried about the lifting of restrictions, but at the same time, people are weary of the mask mandate, the limited access to businesses, and business owners themselves are paying the price with decreased revenue. Many have had to shut down.

Governor Edwards is not expected to sign an acknowledgment of this petition and so the restrictions are still actually in place until he does, but it’s clear that we are now in some murky, gray legal area. If you are a bar owner, and you stay open after 11:00 p.m. and operate at full capacity, will you be shut down or not?  Stay tuned.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.