Livingston Parish offices close as rest of state weighs response to COVID-19 spike

Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks announced today that starting this afternoon his offices will be closed through Aug. 2. The announcement comes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, leaving many cities once again questioning when and what restrictions to enforce.

Louisiana saw 5,388 new cases Wednesday, the third-highest one-day spike in the state since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, a small portion of the new cases are breakthrough cases in which vaccinated individuals contracted the virus, Louisiana Illuminator reports.   

As of Wednesday, Our Lady of the Lake was treating 73 COVID-19 patients, Baton Rouge General had 54 and Ochsner Baton Rouge had 30, WAFB reports. 

In response to the spike, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome urged Baton Rouge residents Wednesday to get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors but added that masking up was still optional. East Baton Rouge Parish has also not closed public offices.

Ricks feels closing parish offices is necessary in response to a growing number of Livingston Parish employees and their family members who are testing positive for the Delta variant, he says in a prepared statement. The parish offices were short staffed because of the number of employees home sick or quarantining after exposure to COVID-19.   

In New Orleans, Mayor Latoya Cantrell once again issued an indoor mask advisory on Wednesday, WDSU reports, as 185 new cases were reported in Orleans Parish. The number of COVID-19 cases in the area has increased by nine times in the past two weeks. 

“The alarming transmission data we’ve seen in the last two weeks, coupled with an inadequate vaccination rate, leaves us no choice,” Dr. Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans Health Department director, says.

Gov. John Bel Edwards will hold a news conference Friday to address the surge in cases.