Someone please tell Louisiana’s Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry that the coronavirus is spreading across the United States at an alarming rate. Landry lost a court fight last week over Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 orders that are saving lives, but the AG plans to appeal the decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Landry told KLFY-TV in Lafayette, “I’m not here to determine whether there’s an emergency or not. I’m here to make sure the governor follows the law.”
How can any public official anywhere make such a statement when new confirmed cases of the disease are skyrocketing and hospital intensive care units in parts of the country are nearing capacity?
Louisiana health officials are also concerned about a rise in cases. They call it a worrying surge after the state had seemed to avoid sharp increases taking place in other parts of the country.
In Landry’s case, he doesn’t like to lose, and he is simply trying to win votes and influence people.
Judge William Morvant, a Republican judge in the 19th Judicial District, made it clear that a petition designed to end Edwards’ control of the pandemic was unconstitutional because it doesn’t involve both the state House and Senate. The Advocate has repeatedly reported that Senate President Page Cortez, RLafayette, said there is little appetite in the upper chamber to do a similar petition.
Morvant said, “The Legislature gave the governor the authority to make these proclamations and issue them, and they would have the force and effect of law. The existence of any legislative power is not on the Senate or House acting alone but by the concurrent action of both houses.”
Landry argues, “I don’t know where under his (the judge’s) theory that one house can’t void out the governor’s declaration because both houses agreed to give one house that (authority). It seems to be so basic in a civics course. It’s absurd.”
Edwards said Morvant’s ruling is a victory for public health in the state and for health care heroes, who are fighting every day to slow the spread of COVID and save lives.
The court decision keeps Edwards’ coronavirus rules intact. They include a statewide mask mandate, social distancing requirements and gathering limits.
Louisiana didn’t fare well during the pandemic’s early surges with its high rates of infections, but keeping the governor’s restrictions in place has given the state a much better record. However, without the restrictions, Louisiana could be facing what every state in the country is now dealing with.
The governor’s restrictions are largely in line with recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and The Advocate noted those restrictions have survived other challenges in state and federal courts.
Unfortunately, there are still too many Louisianans who refuse to follow those restrictions. A local doctor, for example, told me last week that Lake Charles appears to be tops in that category because citizens here are refusing to wear masks, even where they are clearly required.
Someone who was having automobile work done at a local dealership said most of those in the waiting area weren’t wearing masks. I have been wary of eating at restaurants, and a decision to do it last week was a mistake. Some people in the waiting area and others coming in to reserve a table weren’t wearing masks, and going back isn’t worth the risk.
State Rep. Larry Bagley, RStonewall, is chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, and he was in a meeting with the governor and others in September. Bagley told the governor’s team his elderly mother would likely “never go out of the house without a mask on again.”
Bagley added, “But, again, if I want to go out and shake hands, or if I want to go out to a bar and drink, or if I want to go to a football game … that’s my choice. We go home and go to the coffee shop and we have neighbors who ask, ‘Why are you doing this? I don’t know anyone who’s got COVID.’”
Edwards said he knows people are tired of the restrictions, but that “doesn’t mean COVID is going to leave us alone. That’s not the way it works.”
Maybe some people don’t know anyone who had the disease, but many of us do and nightly newscasts keep telling the grim story. A dear friend of mine who had the disease told me he came “mighty close to the Pearly Gates.” Great medical care kept him alive to tell us how scary this disease can be.
The virus has claimed over 248,800 lives in this country, 6,121 in Louisiana and 460 in Southwest Louisiana. Nationally, over 6.7 million people have recovered from COVID-19, so finding someone who did recover shouldn’t be that difficult for the doubters.
The refusal of Landry and others to accept the devastation COVID is causing is disturbing and extremely difficult to understand.