Is the City of Monroe doing enough to help fight the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Governor John Bel Edwards is reporting that while many areas of the state are effectively curbing the rise of the Coronavirus, Monroe is one of a handful of areas in the hotspots where the number of reported cases and deaths is rising.
The number of new reported COVID-19 cases in Ouachita Parish, as of Wednesday this week, was 20 bringing the total number of cases in the parish to 671 with 16 deaths.
Across the state, both the number of cases and new deaths is declining except in Monroe and Ouachita Parish, which is being considered a hot spot.
All around us other parishes, cities, and towns are taking actions to bring the virus under control and their parish-wide numbers reflect their efforts. While Ouachita Parish had twenty new cases this week, Morehouse Parish had only two, Richland Parish had three, Concordia Parish had four, and Madison, Tensas, and East Carroll Parishes had none.
What are other parishes and towns doing that Monroe is not doing? It appears that many of them are taking a tough stand and enforcing social distancing rules, while Monroe encourages social distancing, but has not really taken a tough stand.
In Bastrop, for example, the city cites persons who break social distancing rules, has imposed a late-night curfew, and despite its low numbers, this week has imposed a 9 p.m. curfew on all businesses, forcing citizens off the street.
In Monroe, parks, and recreation centers have been closed, goals have been removed from basketball recreation areas, groups are encouraged not to meet with more than ten. However, in Monroe, nothing happens if people violate social distancing rules. Very few people get a ticket and nobody fears going to jail for violation of the shelter in place order.
On a daily basis, Monroe citizens are shown on social media staging street parties and activities that gather large crowds without fear of being ticketed by the police.
A Southside food truck selling crawfish last week drew scores of customers who stood in line nearly touching each other in a rush to get crawfish. Customers posted pictures of themselves on social media happy to get fresh crawfish. There is no rule requiring food trucks to adhere to social distancing.
In the Renwick neighborhood last week, a birthday party drew about thirty people who celebrated without following social distancing rules as cars lined up and party-goers enjoyed themselves.
The people were not loud or boisterous. They did not disturb the peace or create problems, but crowds similar to these are gathering all over Monroe without fear of being reprimanded by law enforcement.
There is no curfew in Monroe. Neither our city council or Police Jury has passed any emergency ordinances making it a crime to appear in public without masks and gloves.
The city distributed 18,000 donated masks this week, but it has no ordinance or law in place that requires them to be worn.
Monroe is a major hub in Northeast Louisiana, it should not be following behind small towns like Bastrop, which is making it clear to their residents that the city means business.
A man in the Sterlington Road Post Office this week did not wear a mask or gloves. When asked why he had no covering he said, “I’m not worried about that.” He spoke to Postal workers who wore both masks and gloves to protect themselves from him.
Stores and restaurants that are open should not serve anyone that does not observe social distancing rules. Those who are spotted should be reported.
Those who walk around freely claiming to be immune to the disease because they are covered by the “blood of Jesus” should remember, they may be covered, but the people they come in contact with may not be covered.
Covered or not covered, if they move about in public they should observe social distancing rules, and be completely covered.
We encourage both the city and parish to get serious about this virus and crackdown on public gatherings, parties, and citizens seen in public without adequate protections
Until we do, our deaths and new cases will continue to rise.
We will have no one to blame but ourselves.