By Cyndi Sellers
What a difference a week makes. Last week the Pilot was celebrating Cameron Parish’s 150th Anniversary and the scheduled opening of the Centennial Time Capsule. This week the celebration has been postponed, schools are closed, restaurants and bars are closed to indoor service, churches have cancelled services, and government offices are on restricted access.
As Louisiana has become one of the hardest hit states in the COVID-19 global pandemic, drastic steps have been taken by the state and federal government to slow the spread and “flatten” the projected spike in hospitalizations from this disease, which has killed thousands around the world.
As of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 18, Louisiana had confirmed 257 cases of COVID-19 in 13 parishes, and 7 deaths. These numbers are updated twice a day, at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., and can be tracked on the Louisiana department of Health website, www.ldh.la.gov/coronavirus.
While the impact in Louisiana has so far been mostly in the New Orleans/Jefferson Parish area and southeastern parishes, state medical officers have said that the virus is most likely spread throughout the state, and test results are expected to show this spread soon. This is why closures and restrictions are in place even in parishes and regions that are not reporting cases so far.
Here is a short timeline outlining the progress of the emergency:
Dec. 31, 2019 – Officials in China alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) to several cases of an unknown respiratory illness primarily concentrated in the City of Wuhan, Hubei Province.
Jan. 7, 2020 – Officials announced the discovery of a new virus, SARS CoV-19, belonging to the coronavirus family which causes the disease named COVID-19.
Jan. 30, 2020 – Approximately 18 countries outside of China were reporting cases of the virus, causing the WHO to declare the virus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
Mar. 11, 2020 – As the virus continued to spread around the globe, infecting thousands of individuals, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a “Global Pandemic.
Mar. 11, 2020 – The Governor of the State of Louisiana declared a “Public Health Emergency” over the coronavirusoutbreak.
Mar. 13, 2020 – The President of the United States declared a National Emergency due to the out- break.
Mar. 13, 2020 – The Governor ordered the closure of all public elementary and secondary school in Louisiana, beginning Mar. 16 and ending on Apr. 13, postponed the Apr. 4 presidential primary elec- tion until June 20, and banned all public gatherings of 250 or more people. Cameron Parish canceled the Time Capsule Ceremony.
Mar. 16, 2020 – Governor Edwards ordered the closure of all bars, gyms, casinos, and movie theaters, and limited eateries to delivery and take- out only. The Coushatta Tribe, a sovereign nation, followed suit and closed its casino. Gatherings of more than 50 people were banned, following CDC guidelines. A community health resource center was established at Moss Memorial Health Center in Lake Charles to screen for COVID- 19, upon referral from a pri- mary physician, nurse practi- tioner or physician assistant.
Residents are asked to stay at home as much as possible and limit travel. Stores remain open, but many have reduced hours to allow for thorough cleaning and restocking of shelves depleted by panic buying. Pharmacies remain open. Visitation in nursing homes has been curtailed or eliminated.
While industries and construction sites remain opera- tional, many have instituted worker health screenings.
Cameron Parish Sheriff ’s Office and Substations are open for business. Jail visita- tion is on a day by day basis. Call 775-5111 the day before your scheduled visit.
Cameron Parish Police Jury is fully staffed. Face to face meetings by appointment only. Call 775-5718 to sched- ule an appointment. Permits are available online at www.cameronpj.org
Cameron Parish Clerk of Court office is open. Physical access is limited. Call 775- 5316. Conveyance and mortgage records are available online at www.cameronparish.coc.com
Cameron Parish Library locations are closed to the public. Patrons may use the online service to order books and materials. Staff will meet you at the door. Audio books and other resources are avail- able also. The website is www.cameron.lib.la.us
The Diocese of Lake Charles, which includes all Cameron Parish Catholic churches, has cancelled all public masses. Funerals will be limited to graveside servic- es for family only. Weddings will be family only, without a mass.
Cameron Council on Aging has cancelled congregate meeting and meals. Home delivery is available for meals by calling 905-6000.
Fifth Sunday Singing, scheduled for Mar. 29 at Big Lake Gospel Tabernacle has been cancelled.
In light of Governor John Bel Edwards’ Mar. 13, procla- mation and recent CDC COVID-19 guidance, the Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District has can- celed the regular meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 24, at 6 p.m. Communication will be forth- coming regarding the next meeting date.