COVID-19 update from the office of Councilmember Giarrusso
Below is some detailed information from the office of Councilmember Joseph I. Giarrusso III, District A as of 3/24/20.
‘Stay at home’
Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a “Stay Home” order, which mandates all residents stay in their homes except for essential needs, such as groceries, medicine, and health emergencies. “Essential” personnel are allowed to report to work. Click here to understand what classifies as an “essential activity” and “essential personnel.”
Personal recreation is allowed, if the 6-foot distance rule is followed. Avoid close contact with others. Basketball courts, tennis courts, recreation programs, swimming pools, and playgrounds are closed until further notice; This includes NORD as well as those at Audubon Park, City Park, and New Orleans Lawn and Tennis Club. The Fly and sections of Lakeshore Drive have also been closed off to the public. NORD, City Park and Audubon green spaces remain open - please adhere to social distancing.
To report large gatherings or business operators in violation of the new regulations, call 311 or email my office (all office contacts listed at the end of this email).
The City has established 3 drive-through COVID-19 testing sites. You must arrive in a vehicle; pedestrians and bicycles are not allowed. You must be 18 years or older, and must be symptomatic; non-symptomatic people will be turned away. You do not need medical insurance to be tested.
Private clinics also offer testing. Each clinic has their own requirements for testing. Please call ahead to make sure you qualify for testing at a clinic. View a list of clinics here.
City Council is tracking COVID-19 cases throughout Louisiana and New Orleans. This dashboard is updated twice daily using Department of Health data. You can view the number of cases within Orleans Parish, as well as the change over 24 hours. View the tracker on City Council’s website.
Support local eateries
Many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery. If you can, please consider supporting our neighborhood eateries. Councilmember Helena Moreno’s office has compiled a list of open eateries and their contact information. View that list here.
Please keep in mind that bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, entertainment venues, and gyms are all closed. We encourage people to consider delivery and pick-up options for groceries, to limit physical contact that could spread the virus.
The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) suspended water shut-offs throughout the duration of the Mayor’s emergency declaration. SWBNO is also working to restore water to customers during this time. You should still call 52-WATER for emergencies.
Entergy halted customer disconnections due to the coronavirus for the next 30 days. Customers should call 800-368-3749 or visit their website for more information.
Verizon, Cox, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Century Link are also halting disconnections during this pandemic. All have vowed to waive late fees for those affected, as well.
Food & Hygiene
There are several resources for those needing food and hygiene supplies during the time. Seniors who need access to food should call 311, which is coordinating with other local agencies.
Drive-up food pantries for Hospitality & Gig Economy workers:
Second Harvest Food Bank will work to provide food assistance to residents of New Orleans who are experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19.Residents can also call 2-1-1 and ask about “emergency food assistance” to receive more information, find out where a food pantry may be located in their community, and sign up for services.
Nola Tree Project Meal distribution:
NOLA Tree Project will be distributing hot meals from Second Harvest every weekday from 3pm-5pm. These meals are drive-through only. Pick-up at NOLA Tree Project headquarters: 1509 Filmore Ave.
NORD After School Meals:
NORD, in partnership with Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry Louisiana, is offering hot meals from 4pm-6pm at all of our rec centers except Annunciation Rec Center. View all locations here.Total Community Action food pantry:
TCA Food Pantry, located at 4518 Thalia Street, will offer supplemental food assistance to families daily between the hours of 8am-5pm. During the emergency declaration all families are eligible and encouraged to participate in the supplemental food distribution.
Meal services for the homeless:
Some changes have been made to the normal meal service locations for homeless residents. See locations here.
Junior League Diaper Bank:
The Junior League of New Orleans is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute diapers throughout the Greater New Orleans area. Please visit one of these distribution sites if you are in need of diapers or period products. Click here to view all 8 locations.
Residential evictions have been suspended through April 24, with further orders to follow.
The Mayor’s Office of Community Development has partnered with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Total Community Action, and New Orleans Family Justice Alliance to provide immediate financial and legal rent and mortgage help. Contact the Office of Community Development at 504-658-4200 for assistance.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services provides free, civil legal aid to low-income people. You can receive assistance for landlord-tenant issues and more. Visitslls.org or call 504-529-100 for more information.
Clients and individuals in need of legal assistance or self-help can also reachThe Pro Bono Project at 504-581-4043. Email for clients is email@example.com and for self-represented litigants (i.e., self help) firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has released information for workers in Louisiana who have been impacted by COVID-19. Those who are eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits will also qualify for SNAP benefits.
As a worker, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance if:
The New Orleans Business Alliance has launched a relief fund to meet the needs of gig economy workers who have been directly impacted via loss of income. Learn more and apply here.
The United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Entergy, and the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation have launched the Hospitality Cares Pandemic Response Fund to provide crisis grants to hospitality workers affected by COVID19. You can apply for a crisis grant here.
Catholic Charities can assist you with completing:
Assistance for Businesses
The City is encouraging all employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, if possible.
Small Business Administration:
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared a disaster in the state of Louisiana and made Economic Injury Disaster Loans available to small businesses (including sole proprietors) and nonprofits. Impacted small businesses may apply for up to $2 million in working capital to pay for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the COVID-19 disaster. Loan terms (3.75 percent interest rate for small businesses; 2.75 percent for nonprofits) may be extended up to 30 years to keep payments affordable. Start an SBA loan application here.
Revenue & tax extensions:
The City of New Orleans announced on March 17, 2020 it is waiving fines, fees, interest and penalties on sales tax payments due to the City for 60 days. In addition, the City will extend the renewal period for ABOs up to 30 days without penalty.
The Department of Revenue for the State of Louisiana has delayed collections of February 2020 sales tax returns and payments to May 20, 2020 and will waive delinquency penalties and interest until that date.
If you are temporarily closing or reducing your hours of operations due to COVID-19, please contact the LWC to discuss how they can provide assistance and answer your questions about unemployment insurance and other programs and resources available.
Contact LWC at EmployerServices@lwc.la.gov with your unemployment insurance questions. Be sure to provide your company’s name, a point of contact, telephone number and email address, as well as specifics on the assistance you are requesting.
Mental health services
If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, fear and anxiety about the uncertainty surrounding this public health emergency, there is a special Keeping Calm through COVID Hotline you can call. This connects you to trained, compassionate counselors who can offer support and who can direct you to mental health and substance abuse counseling services. All calls are confidential: 1-866-310-7977.
Center for Hope will be offering free Telehealth services for those that might be experiencing stress and anxiety at this time. Call (504) 241-6006.
If you or a loved one are feeling overwhelmed by this emergency, please get assistance from SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response (STAR) has a 24/7 hotline, dedicated to sexual assault and emergency assistance. Call 855-435-STAR.
Donations & volunteers
Community organizations and philanthropic partners are stepping up to help our neighbors during this time. The following community partners are accepting both monetary donations and volunteers.
Greater New Orleans Foundation:
The Greater New Orleans Foundation has activated its Response and Restoration Fund in response to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The Response and Restoration Fund supports a network of voluntary and community organizations taking care of our elderly, the homeless, and low-wage workers who are made more vulnerable by this pandemic.
Second Harvest Food Bank:
Second Harvest is welcoming donations of fresh produce and non-perishable food items, as well as donations of cleaning supplies, soap, and hand sanitizer. Donations can be dropped off Monday-Friday, 7:30a.m-5pm at the Elmwood location: 700 Edwards Ave.
New Orleans Council on Aging:
The New Orleans Council on Aging is taking financial donations to support seniors through its Meals on Wheels program and other services. With elderly community members at high risk from COVID19, please consider giving generously to the Council on Aging so that they can continue to provide critical services.
Supplies for Saints:
Supplies for Saints is a New Orleans organization supporting our healthcare workers who are on the front lines of COVID-19. Supply for Saints is connecting local hospitals in need of medical masks, gowns, and gloves, with providers who are able to donate. If you have new and unused medical masks, gowns, and gloves please contact Supply for Saints as they are urgently needed.
Junior League Diaper Bank:
The Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) founded its Diaper Bank in 2014 to help families from the bottom up. JLNO buys diapers at a highly discounted rate, provides volunteer support for sorting, packing, and distributing diapers. You can also purchase through Amazon Wishlist.
Medical & behavioral health volunteers:
The City is building a network of volunteers to support public health and medical efforts during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Volunteers may be used for a variety of clinical and non-clinical tasks under the direction of the New Orleans Health Department and the State of Louisiana Department of Health. You can register to volunteer here.
Hands On New Orleans:
Hands On New Orleans' mission is to engage, empower and transform our community through volunteer engagement, community revitalization and disaster response programs. There are many ways to volunteer, both virtually and in person. Learn more here.
City Hall resources:
Though visitors are limited at City Hall, all departments are reporting for work; some are working from home, as required by their directors. Staff are checking temperatures when you enter the building, and anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or higher will be sent away.
My office is still responding to your questions and concerns. We are working with the proper departments to fix streetlights, service cuts, and other quality of life issues. Remember, you should still call 311 for non-emergency City work.
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