What if they reopened Louisiana and nobody came?

Phase I of Louisiana’s COVID-19 (Grand?) Reopening is set for tomorrow, with severe restrictions on those lucky enough to make the list (we assume every business can open given those itemized below while noting “tattoo parlors” were omitted).  Published in the state’s “Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana” is this list:

Now opening with limitations (25% occupancy spacing for physical distancing):

  • Churches
  • Solo and non-contact sports
  • Barbers and salons
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • In malls, only stores with exterior entrances
  • Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
  • Bars and breweries with LDH food permit – takeout, delivery and dine-in seating only
  • Theaters
  • Casinos and Video Poker
  • Racetracks (not open to spectators)

Just how effective in saving Louisiana’s wallowing economy these measures will be is anyone’s guess.  Most important, though, is the ability of those business owners and their employees to earn a living, as fundamental a right as any could be in a free society.  Allowing 25% occupancy at any given time is, we suspect, less of a determinant than questionable demand for those services; especially given the fact that many consumers, already hard hit by two months of stay-at-home orders, may not have many discretionary dollars to spend.

How many of you are going to rush out to those restaurants, bars and Video Poker parlors, et al?

On May 4 Public Policy Polling released survey results which indicating strong support for Edwards’ handling of the crisis:

Governor Edwards recently extended the stay at home order from April 30 through May 15th. Do you agree with the Governor’s extension of the stay at home order through May 15th, or do you think it should have been allowed to expire on April 30th?

* 64% Agree with the Governor’s extension of the stay at home order through May 15th ………….
* 31% Think it should have been allowed to expire on April 30th…………………………………………….
* Not sure 5%

If those results are accurate, it will not be as simple as “reopening Louisiana” for business.

Longer term, how long it will be before Governor John Bel Edwards moves to Phase II?  Hard to say since the criteria for entering Phase I, published by the White House, have yet to be met.  Yesterday saw Louisiana’s Department of Health report 612 new coronavirus cases, nearly tripling the figure for each of the preceding three days.

Road to a Resilient Louisiana asserts, “A vital part of the effort is testing for COVID-19 because the virus:

  • Continues to grow week over week
  • Positivity rate relative to testing has decreased
  • Goal: 200,000 tests by end of May, with a focus on vulnerable communities, hot spots and inaccessible areas.”

With 4.649 million people, testing 200,000 seems pretty meager to this layman.  (Test result from last week: NEGATIVE).  (Whether the virus has been contracted since Friday: DON’T THINK SO).

Still, I won’t be rushing out to a theater anytime soon, 25% max capacity or not.  It seems advisable to minimize one’s risk of exposure, though that next haircut will be one to savor.

What about you?  Take the newest Pelican Poll (see right-hand side of page).