Week in Review, June 15-19: The Good, the Bad and the COVID

NEW ORLEANS – What would normally have been a quiet summer week for New Orleanians was anything but as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests continue to dominate the news and affect daily life in the GNO region. Meanwhile, 80 miles to the north, Louisiana legislators continued to hash out the details of laws that could have repercussions for years to come.

Looking back, there was good news and there was bad news.

In the negative column, oil giant BP announced it will cut the value of its oil and gas assets by as much as $17.5 billion because of decreased demand. Las Vegas-based casino chain Boyd Gaming Corp said it may lay off up to 1,500 Louisiana employees. Many short-term rental operators in New Orleans said they are struggling. And a report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Data Center said that New Orleans’ reliance on tourism means the city’s in for a slow recovery.

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On the positive side, the New Orleans Business Alliance announced it has raised more than $1.3 million for “gig economy” workers in the city. The legislature is getting close to approving $250 payments to Louisiana front-line workers. And Gov. Edwards signed a Republican bill designed to divert $300 million in federal aid from municipalities and give it to Louisiana small business owners. (To be fair, not everyone thinks this one is a good idea – especially local government officials – but, hey, read the room …) Also, a survey from personal finance website WalletHub reveals that almost 60 percent of Americans think COVID-19 has changed the way we work for the better.

Meanwhile, long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week as the benchmark 30-year home loan reached a new all-time low. This is certainly good news – unless you already refinanced your house a month ago. In that case, just skip this story so you don’t get aggravated …

Today is Juneteenth – a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the US – and there are several stories to mark the occasion:

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  • The River Parishes Tourist Commission announced that it has changed its promotional name from “New Orleans Plantation Country” to “Louisiana’s River Parishes” in an effort to “encompass the complete story of the River Region.”
  • The AP reported that community and environmental groups won court approval for a Juneteenth ceremony at a Louisiana site archaeologists have described as probably a cemetery for enslaved Africans Americans when the land was a plantation.
  • An unprecedented number of U.S. companies are giving employees off for Juneteenth on Friday, raising hopes that the day commemorating the end of slavery could someday become a true national celebration.

Of all the week’s stories, there’s probably none as important or concerning as the reports of spikes in COVID-19 cases throughout the state. The news is a reminder of how fragile the city’s economic recovery is and how much relies on people taking seriously the advice of the nation’s medical professionals.

 

 

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