Pre-Conference Question - What do you think he'll announce?
A harsher lecture on being a GOOD NEIGHBOR?
Modified Phase 3 ala New Orleans?
Moving back to Phase 2 or 1?
Or will it be an unexpected Stay At Home order?
Some other option?
NOTE: The summary of this press conference is transcribed LIVE. The summary may contain spelling and grammatical errors which until it is able to be corrected once the conference concludes. NOTE: The summary may contain spelling and grammatical errors. Gov JBE
Anyone who has been paying attention to the news whether internationally, nationally, or state you know COVID-19 is going in the wrong direction unmoving very fast in the wrong direction.
Louisiana is experiencing the third surge of COVID-19.
Nov alone the US has had more new cases than in any other months and hospitalizations are at a record high nationally. Higher than other surges.
Yesterday the US added more than 169,000 new cases in one day and 898 deaths.
This week's WH Coronavirus Taskforce Report shows 474 new cases per 100,000 people last week we had 172 new cases per 100,000 people. The national average is 356 cases per 100,000.
So this is the first week in many weeks that LA has had more new cases than the national average.
Today we report ___ new cases and sadly 39 additional people have lost their lives to the virus for a Toal amount of ___ deaths. Reporting 1,052 hospitalizations, not the first of the month we had less than 600. Today we are up 40 than yesterday with more than 350+ net new COVID19 hospitalizations. 113 patients on mechanical ventilators.
When we see what's happening in state and across all regions we have to be very cautious about hospitalizations and maintain the capacity to give life-saving care to covid and non-covid patients.
Trajectory we are on it is imperative we take action now.
If we could flip a switch and get 100% adherence to mitigation measures to all measures we are still 2 weeks from seeing changes.
We are in for a rough patch, and the degree we flatten the curve and are successful will depend on eery Louisianan.
We are stepping a step back to a revised Phase 2. So Phase 2 with some modifications.
We got out of the prior surge by moving to Phase 2.
What does that mean?
Will get into that later...
Wants to get ahead of the Thanksgiving Holiday and the extended holiday season.
Data includes info thru Friday, Nov 20.
Thanks National Guard, GOSHEP, and the LDH for working very hard and working over the holiday.
Gating Criteria Slides:
What we are seeing is as concerning as it has ever been. We were lucky to have a reprieve from the rest of the countries rise in cases for a few weeks we are now where a large portion of the country is.
Top left shows % of patients coming into ER departments across the state with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 you can see the prior spikes and now it is increasing again.
Top right show new cases on a rolling 7-day average you can see the first and second spikes and now the increase we are on which is almost identical to where we were going up in the second spike and clearly we have not hit the top yet.
Bottom left you can see the % positivity dated back to the date of collection and that is increasing as well up to 8.1% now will be posted on the dashboard tomorrow. You will see testing volume is also increasing. There is more COVID so more people are getting tested due to more exposure plus the increase around testing around the holiday. An increase in testing volume has no bearing on testing positivity. An increase in positivity and testing volume is a strong signal we are experiencing a lot of COVID.
Bottom right is the amount of hospitalized patients with COVID19 you can see the two spikes and now a sharp increase. It is a rate of increase that our hospitals cannot stand for very much longer.
Region analysis - every region across the state are seeing similar increases.
Region 1 Orleans - increase across the board.
Region 2 EBR - increase across the board.
Region 3 River parishes - increase across the board.
Region 4 - increases across the board.
Region 5 Lake Charles - increases across the board.
Region 6 Can LA - increases across the board with a very sharp increase in new cases and hosp.
Region 7 - increase across the board.
Region 8 - increase across the board.
Region 9 - increases across the board.
A month ago it was a mixed bag with some areas plateauing or increasing.
Now the entire state for all gating criteria is increasing, (only Can LA is plateauing for COVID-like illness reports).
Still have capacity across the state but this is a lagging indicator so if you act when hospitals are at capacity it is too late.
People waiting a long time to get a bed. One ER had to use recliners in the ER while people waited for a bed to open up.
Rural/smaller hospitals are having a difficult time transferring patients to other locations. Not every ICU bed is equal and some conditions require more expertise from an advanced center. Only a handful exist across the state. Even if a rural hospital has an ICU available if a patient presents with needing an advanced team and there are none available they may have to wait a couple of days before they get transferred in. That's a delay of care and has consequences.
Hospitals are stretched and already at staffing capacity. A nurse may typically care for 4-5 patients may now be caring for 6-7.
These things have consequences and it is just the beginning because we haven't hit capacity yet. This is a warning we have to act now. There are things we are working to preserve in the state and the ability to access normal hospital care is one of those priorities. We do not want to have to delay scheduled procedures.
The path ahead is dangerous. This is a dangerous time for Louisiana.
The trajectory we are on is dangerous. We are on a similar trajectory as before.
Now it is flu season so we have extra patients in the hospital.
Weather turning cold so more people indoors = more transmission.
Peak of the holiday season coming up so there's a temptation to gather. Gathering = more transmission.
Previous increases we were not in lockstep with the rest of the country. Every other state is seeing runs on hospital care and demands of their hospital staff at the same time we are. If we need to ask for help, it may not be there this time. In fact, we don't think they will be available because they will be caring for their own state's patients.
Questions for Dr Kanter about data
Related to Halloween? Seems people are willing to gather for Thanksgiving. Are we going to see a worsening 2 weeks after Thanksgiving We are already seeing just about as steep of an increase as we can get it really can't get much steeper than that. I don't know, looking back to Halloween, it was part of it. I think increases from other states was bleeding over into our particularly in Northern LA. Plus we are tired, COVID fatigue is real, and it's easy to get complacent. Even without Thanksgiving coming ahead we will continue to get worse. I don't know how much worse it gets with Thanksgiving. I cannot emphasize this more than enough if you need to make a decision for your family talk to someone who has had it, experiencing the disease, or someone who has worked in the affected healthcare facilities during those two surges. How much is being driven by small gatherings indoors and if so it doesn't seem restrictions matter than much Small gatherings have been a larger component than months ago, there is no question about that but that is just one slice. We continue to see a lot of cases tied to bars, restaurants, events, and churches as well. Mitigation measures are going to be significant in their effect but not absolute. The other side is that people really need to make responsible decisions when no one is looking. No one will police who parities but I want families to take it seriously and know what the real risks are and make an informed decision. The more families are informed the more they will be likely to say for this year, for my family, it is just not worth it. Gov. JBE
We have already been told that for example if we will request help from he Fed gov in respect to medical care to Louisiana there are 12 individual and discrete things we have done first before we can be considered.
Strong indication we cannot count on that.
Difference between Spring and Summer surges when we did have medical personnel available from requests to the Federal government at that time.
Partially important for Northern and Central LA. I do not know how hard it will be to go back in the gating criteria for those regions but if you go to Region 6. If you look right at the summer surge we never got those numbers as far down as we wanted to we never got those numbers down to where we wanted to. So the baseline of going into the third surge is much higher relatively speaking to the state as a whole. So we are already in a much more difficult place.
Statewide the non-COVID patient population is higher now than it was in the Spring or the Summer.
Region 7 you will see the right of the summer surge the numbers did not come down to be even close to where they were before the summer surge started. So they have a very high baseline of cases.
Region 8 the same thing.
Our numbers are worse and they are getting worse everywhere so I hesitate to bring up regions 6,7, and 8 because people might think that's the only places we need to be focused on. That is not true, but I will tell you its a particular concern if you are in Central or Northern LA because you have such a high baseline going into this.
While we need adherence to restrictions everywhere it is particularly acute in Regions 6,7, and 8.
Breakdown of Phase 2 (modified) will become effective tomorrow and last 28 days (4 weeks) expiring on Dec 23:
Statewide surge requiring a statewide effort.
Follows the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommendations.
Last time we had such a large single-day increase was in July -- which is when we took action through implementing Phase 2 and the mask mandate -- and collectively the people across Louisiana responded and we bent the curve.
Time for us to rise again and meet the challenge before us.
With the Holiday season before us we really gotta pay attention to this now so we do not overburden our hospitals to not deliver care. I do not want to have hospitals have to cancel elective surgeries or medical procedures want. Delayed non-emergency procedures and surges often transmit into emergencies later on. Do not want doctors to have to make crisis care decisions pitting cases against one another due to a lack of resources.
We have avoided crisis care during our previous waves because we worked together to flatten the curve.
If there was ever a time to step up and be a good neighbor, whether it is to your actual neighbor or to someone in LA you have never met, that time is now.
People do not stop having car accidents because of a pandemic. There are still critical care needs apart from COVID.
Do it for the medical professionals as well who have been overworked since March.
To keep schools open.
Encouraging all employers public and private to maximize the use of telework where possible.
Ask families to engage in safe holiday-related activities. When you gather with those outsides from your household the more times you do it the more you roll the dice and the more likely it is that you or multiple people get sick. With community spread the dice are loaded against you. I ask you not to do this, especially during the holidays. It is what the CDC and LDH recommend.
Start planning now for a safe Christmas and Hanukkah.
Reduction in gathering sizes for businesses & houses of worship
50% for occupancy with social distancing and masks for restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, gyms, casinos, and video poker, and non-essential retail businesses.**
Essential is determined by the Dept. of Homeland Security.
75% for occupancy with social distancing and masks for churches and places of worship.**
Reduction in gathering sizes at bars other restrictions remain in place.
Bars in parishes with greater than 5% must close to indoors consumption can have outdoor seating of up to 50 people, seated and spaced out, and masks mandated.
Bars in parishes with less than 5% can allow indoor consumption up to 25% occupancy seated and spaced out; outdoor consumption encouraged and masks mandated.
Reduction in gathering sizes at event centers
Indoors limited to 25% occupancy, make required up to 75.
Outdoors limited to 25% occupancy, masks required, up to 150 where social distancing is not possible.
Reduction of sporting event occupancy
Limited to 25% occupancy.
When LDH updates the two-week case incidence numbers tomorrow there will be some parishes where bars close, that were going to happen regardless of these changes because those parishes would have exceeded the 10% that was previously required.
Now allowing outdoor seating.
Statewide mask mandate remains in effect
It was a critical part of slowing the spread in the summer and is a critical part now.
Now we know wearing a mask also reduces transmission to you as well as those around you.
Doing everything we can to keep schools open.
Local decision how schools do this.. if they are in person, vertical, or hybrid.
Do not have an expectation that by Dec 23rd we will reduce restrictions a couple of days ahead of Christmas.
All data indicates we in for a couple of rough months.
No one should believe we will relax restrictions around that time.
I hope and pray, and believe, we will not have to put more restrictions in place before then.
Will be dependent on if the people of Louisiana embrace the mitigation measures and flatten that curve again. If we stay on the current trajectory we will be forced to put more restrictions in place.
Everyday households need to stick together and reduce interaction with those outside of their household.
Any activities that do take place should take place outside rather than inside.
Odds are 20x higher to catch the virus indoors than outdoors when the same activity takes place.
We are expecting rain this week perhaps staying with us through Thanksgiving and after.
Even if you planned the safest possible event with it intended to be outdoors there is a good chance you will not be able to do that.
Now is your opportunity to adjust your Thanksgiving plans.
Do not have people from different households come indoors together. The virus doesn't care if you are a relative.
If you want a Christmas without loved ones in the hospital, or worse, you need to be extremely careful on Thanksgiving and every day.
Next few weeks would normally be holiday party time - office, block, family, etc.
Holiday parties are a recipe for disaster now. Asking people to forgo those parties.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is not a high-speed train heading in our direction, I believe in a few months we will be able to put the pandemic behind us. Next month we can start vaccinating in small numbers and will take some time to get to the general population. Do not get in your mind we will have to mask up and physically distance forever. There is an excellent chance that next Thanksgiving will be the best one ever. While there is COVID fatigue and I know it is real, it is also real that we are looking for renewed interest and compliance for a finite amount of time. I hope it inspires people to do what is required and know they won't have to do it forever. The next few months are critical. We need everyone to be on the same page.
Holidays are about showing your love for those you care about. The best way to love someone right now is to give them COVID. So like it says, "pass the pie and not COVID" that is our mission. That is the mission for everybody in Louisiana.
Follow the commonsense public health measures, the restrictions, and mitigation measures.
They work and have worked before.
Mitigation measures: wear a mask, stay 6ft apart from that outside of your household, wash your hands for 20 seconds, stay home when sick, and protect the most vulnerable from this disease (65+ in age and those with co-morbidities).
Thanks to all public health workers.
Owe a debt of gratitude for those who have worked so hard for months now. We should not make it harder than it needs to be. We should all do our part.
Epidemiologists in Louisiana say we may be getting diminishing returns on our introduction of restrictions than what we previously saw. Are you concerned that the impact of the introduction of these restrictions will be more gradual and the implications that may have I am concerned about an awful lot as it is related to COVID19 and this pandemic. There is not one easy decision I have made nor one that has brought me joy. I am convinced that if the people of Louisiana will embrace these mitigation measures and restrictions, be patient and selfless, and ensure compliance that we will flatten the curve again. That is what I know. There are no magic tricks to be worked here. The only way to stop a surge is with restrictions and mitigation measures. So with the numbers increases here and around the country as they are the sense of urgency that you see coming out of leaders in Washington right now, as seen with Vice President Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force the other day, everyone should understand that this a very very serious situation. We have to do our part in order to slow the spread. It has to be a collective effort. No one should say is 99% of the people do it that's good enough I don't have to personally do it... that doesn't work. We all have to see it as a common effort that we all play our part. If someone would have presented a better option to flatten the curve I would have taken it. I know we have COVID fatigue here and around the country. If there was something other than wearing masks, washing your hands and staying home when you are sick, and so forth I would embrace it. It doesn't exist. That is why you hear this coming out of Washington and all the other healthcare workers how important these are. So let's do it. Let's flatten the curve again. I feel very comfortable that in several months, not sure when we will have enough of our population vaccinated that I believe we can start putting in the rear view mirror. Until now and then we have to do what is necessary. I do not know if there is another surge after this one, I pray not, but we know we are surging now. Are you trying to change the way enforcement has been handled on these public health issues. Obviously the problem is people aren't following previous guidelines.. so are you making changes to enforcement? We will continue to work with businesses of all types and venues to ensure that they understand that the restrictions are what rules they have to abide by. Individuals and businesses can get more information at opensafely.la.gov and you will get more information. Will there be enforcement? Yes, there will be, but I am going to say what I've said back in March and every time since then, if the people in Louisiana insist we enforce our way through this we are doomed to failure. There are 4.66 million Louisianas and 10s of thousands of business and quite frankly we cannot enforce our way through this. We are going to be asking people to comply, do compliance visits, respond to complaints, and where people refuse to come int o compliance you can expect enforcement. That will not get us through this surge. That will not protect the health of our fellow Louisianans, it is better than not doing any enforcement. We need to have people doin this because it is the right thing to do. They need to embrace it, not because it is pleasant but at the end of the day this about people's lives are talking about. We are doing our very best to strike the balance between lives on one hand and livelihoods on the other. When it comes to economy, to business, to employers, to livelihoods, the best thing we can do is put this virus behind us. Are the rules for temporary conditional permits allowing bars to operate as restaurants remain in effect? Yes and we currently have 372 bars using conditional permits to operate as restaurants. They are not a hybrid, they are not part bar or part bar. They operate as restaurants if they are operating properly and they follow all rules for restaurants. For other establishment that continue to operate as bars they need to follow the way we outlined bars operate today. What are you doing for your Thanksgiving celebration. You have a son who is coming home from college because LSU is going virtual for Thanksgiving Yeah I have a son who actually lives here in Baton Rogue and he will likely be coming home to spend some time with us. I will tell you we will stay in baton Rogue at the mansion and have a Thanksgiving meal that consists of the immediate household. We will gives thanks because even during this pandemic which has been so tough on people, even after the 3 hurricanes that hit this year, we have so much to be thankful for. God has truly blessed us. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks and that is important to me and my family and we are going to do it, but last year I remember my 84 year old mother came, my 6 siblings all came with their spouses and children and grandchildren. We had 80 or 90 people. You will not be seeing that this year and you will not see it at Christmas either. I hope and pray that if you are with me on Thanksgiving Day of 2021 you will see that. I believe that you will, but between now and then we all have to do our part. Did you tell Legislative leaders about these new restrictions before you came out here today? What was their response? Yes, I did. You need to know that I routinely send data and information to the Speaker and to the President. We have complete transparency on the data we are relying on because we update it every day aside for Saturday. We also have sent Legislative leadership, and I believe every member of the Legislature, every White House Coronavirus Task Force report whenever we get them. This morning in a addition to those things we presented all gating criteria slides to the Speaker and the President. We talked about where we were especially in light of our hospital capacity and our need to go back to a modified Phase 2 in order to flatten the curve again. They asked some questions, expressed concerns to makes sure whether the Fire Marshall or ATC will work with proprietors and bar owners to maximum extend possible so they can know hat is expected of them and be given an opportunity, if they are operation in good faith -- of which the overwhelming majority of businesses are -- to come into compliance. That has been our approach throughout the pandemic. We have always bent over backwards to make sure individuals know what the rules give them every opportunity to come into compliance and only after persistent shortcomings/refusal to do any real enforcement actions like citations take place. I assured him our approach would not change. Does the influx of new vaccines change our prognosis at all We have a draft plan in Louisiana that we continue to update and revise daily. The reason it is a draft plan is that we still don't know the day that we will get the first vaccines nor the number of doses that will be there. I have every expectation that around mid-December we should receive some doses of the Pfizer vaccines first. We don't know how many it could be as few as 30,000 or might be 60,000 we do not know for sure. We think the first doses of the Moderna vaccines would come weeks later, perhaps with a smaller number available initially. We continue to work with our federal partners. We were on the phone with Azar yesterday and talked about the logistical aspects of Project Warpspeed. Once the vaccine gets the EUA from the FDA we will have the vaccine in route to our location(s) of choice in 24 hours. The first shipment will be prioritized to healthcare workers, then high-risk groups (nursing homes, assisted living centers, congregated shelters), then the list expands from there out. Ultimately we want to get to a place where we put a call out to the general population they can go to their health unit (hospital, doctor's office, or pharmacy) and get the vaccine. This is not a one and one vaccine, it requires a second dose, depending on the manufacturer that could be between 21-28 days later. More vaccines may come only over time and some of these things may change. I do not want talk of the vaccine, it is critically important and no one is more excited than I am, but I do not want the talk of the vaccine to cause people to not pay attention to what is imperative right now. That is why you hear Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, Azar, talking about the term of bridging to the vaccine and needing to double-down on measures until the vaccine is widely available. The vaccine will not be here in the numbers we need soon enough to reverse the trajectory and numbers we went over today. I do want to mention I have every confidence that when the FDA issues that EUA that that vaccine will be safe and effective. I hope my fellow Louisiana will embrace the vaccine. A vaccine saves 0 lives but vaccination can save a lot of lives. The vaccination requires the vaccines and an individual to receive that vaccine in two injections. So please understand the FDA has not cut out any steps required to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. In fact, the trial sizes were 5x-6x more than one would normally see in a trial. They took steps consecutively instead of sequentially to make this vaccine thereby shortening its time for production. They started the mass production while trials were still happening. So if that authorization comes they have the vaccine to distribute and more to be distributed and you don't have to start that manufacturing process up from the beginning. So I really want people to embrace this and understand they will be safe and effective once the call goes out to start vaccination. Does the state have enough cold storage for the vaccines or does the state have to put in some money for that? We've identified the cold storage capacity that we need pursuant to our plan to administer the Pfizer vaccine. Its a combination of cold storage capacity and dry ice. We will be in good shape there. This is why you have to have really good hard work going on hard in advance. That way working with hospitals and universities you are able to identify all the cold storage you have, where is available for these vaccines and then you plug that into your plan. That will not be a limiting factor in terms of receiving the vaccine. Logistically it makes it more complicated because you have to receive it at those sites and distribute it from there. They are still evaluating how long the vaccines remain stable once they thaw out. We will be all over that so we will make sure if that vial falls out it will be administered while it is stable and making sure that people come and get the second dose as well.
Thank you for continuing to cover this. We do not anticipate another press conference until next week, date unknown.
As I mentioned awhile ago, despite how difficult this year has been for all of us both individually and as a state, there is a lot for us to be thankful for. That is always the case. So Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the blessing we enjoy and I would encourage people to find ways to have a celebration that is safe so we can be thankful for the blessings we have while being mindful of the dangers of this pandemic. There are dangers if we insists on celebrating the holidays as we have in past. I cannot strongly encourage people to be patient. I know you are tired of this but be patient and love your loved ones by making sure you do not expose them to unnecessary risk. We close to them through the phone, FaceTime, and other ways. Let's look forward to getting together without restrictions and mitigation measures. Unless between now and then we are too risky with our behaviors and we'll be lamenting the fact that we didn't do what we were asked to do. That some of our loved ones won't be with us when the time comes to celebrate in person. When that next birthday, Thanksgiving, or Christmas happens. I encourage everyone to do their part. You've done it before. We can do it again. I am not asking for you to do this forever. There is finite time I am asking for. I cannot tell you when, but I believe in several months we will be putting this in our rearview mirror, but it is not today. In fact, it is not in our rear-view mirror it is in our grill and it is a nasty nasty situation here in Louisiana like it is around the country. We do not have a moment to waste. Everyone has to do their part. If we do, and I'm sure we will, we will get through this. I have every confidence of the people in Louisiana. They have always inspired by their kindness, goodness, and generosity and I believe they will do it again. So let's work together. Let's save lives. God bless and thank you.
My birthday was 2 weeks ago and one of my best friend's birthday is tomorrow. We decided to have a joint party in Lake Charles, LA. I brought $1100 with me + $100 I received from my parents for my birthday. We arrived at the casino around noon on Saturday and went straight to the casino pool. We drank and had fun for a few hours before gambling. I won about $2,000 on blackjack and we went to bed. I bought breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my friends the next day. On Sunday, we hit the pool and got drunk (again) then went back to gambling. I played more BJ and was doing great but things turned and I ended up losing $1,000. I started tilting and drinking more. I colored up with $300 left in chips. After a few drinks, I went back and put the $300 on one hand of BJ. Lost it. I was more tilted. I decided to leave my friends at the BJ table and went to a slot machine. Being on tilt, I decided to just go nuts and ended up putting a $100 bill after another. I was playing $8.80/spin so it goes quick. I was ready to be done with this trip and head back to the hotel to go home. After feeding the machine about $500-600, I hit the grand jackpot for 3.49million pennies. What's crazy is that I won because I hit a bonus that required me to choose three random puzzles to get it. My first two picks were for the grand bonus and a random lady came from behind me and pressed the third. I hit the $35,000 grand jackpot. I gave the random lady a little over $1,000 and then spent $1,500 on bottle service/partying. I'm still in shock. I tipped everyone and gave my friends hundreds. I deposited $33,000 to my bank account today. They asked a lot of questions. I had to show them my tax paperwork. I'm expecting an additional $3,000 LA tax reurn from the day but will have to pay 24% in federal taxes. Still in shock.
The summary is transcribed live, maybe paraphrased, and will contain spelling and grammatical errors until I am able to edit it once the press conference ends.
As of noon today we report 1,345 new cases for a Toal of 127,246 COVID-19 cases in Lousiana.
Cases are from 15,105 tests. 94% of today's cases were from community spread and 94% were collected int the past week.
There are 1,457 COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized, this is a decrease of 14 from yesterday's and is the 5th day there has been a decline in hospitalizations.
We hit a death milestone today surprising 4k deaths, with 50 new deaths reported today for a total of 4,028.
We have seen sustained improvements in regards to cases, hospitalizations, and case positivity. They are all too high but it beats the trajectory we were previously on since Memorial Day. We are doing better but have some work left to do.
We completed Surge testing in EBR parish sponsored by HHS at 56,711 tests were administered.
Fixed sites will remain in Lake Charles, Lafayette, and Alexandria while supplies last.
New Orleans now has surge testing open and will continue past next Friday.
Everyone who got tested was able to receive a mask and they were educated by the Department of Health on how to protect themselves and their communities from COVID.
These are the only sites that allow people to be tested without symptoms in Louisiana and we saw many asymptomatic got tested and found out they were positive.
Estimates are between 25-40% of people who get COVID will be asymptomatic, which is what makes this pandemic so hard to control because asymptomatic people are less likely to be tested and more likely to transmit the disease to others because they do not know they are infectious.
Mask is a proxy for a test result.
If you have COVID symptoms or been exposed to someone with COVID get tested. Call your doctor. Call 2-1-1 to find a test site with you.
Dr. Gina Laguard of Regional Medical Director of Region 9 / Northshore
Collectively Northshore makes up 12% of the state's population with over a 500,000 population the Northshore is home to both rural and urban living.
COVID is widespread on the Northshore and in all five Northshore parishes.
The cases and deaths from the Northshore represent 10% of the states.
All of the Northshore parishes Are higher than the federal threshold.
However, mitigation efforts are showing that the incidence of COVID is decreasing.
Percent positivity in all 5 parishes is above the Federal Threshold, but at least 2 of the parishes have shown a decrease in case positivity.
The age group that accounts for the majority of cases increases is 18-29 years of age.
Hospitals have the capacity, they have beds, ventilators, and PPE. However, their biggest challenge is staffing.
With community spread the people who work int he hospital are exposed and they too have fallen ill. Not all of it is COVID, keep in mind there are still other illnesses in the population.
I am hopeful in the region we will continue to work tirelessly to test the residents and work closely with parish leadership to provide the best testing, but it is becoming a challenge with limitations we have and the amount of the strike teams we have.
Right now we are working with National Guard, LCMC, and Oschner. We had two surge sites one in Livingston and Tangipahoa and were able to test over 1,400.
9,100 people have been tested in the community with the 178 tests per day.
Work closely with the hospitals to ensure they have what they need to deliver services.
Work with leadership to make sure mitigation measures are in place.
"Slow the pace. Cover your Face."
It's not too much to ask to wear a mask.
It is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID.
Mandates may affect how we live, learn, work, worship, socialize but they are necessary to curb the spread of the disease.
This is a collective effort. We must work together to reduce the spread of COVID.
Shows a picture of her 63-year-old cousin Nadine.
Nadine was retired from Loyola after 30 years of work experience but rejoined the work market.
March 9th was the first case in Louisiana. 7 days later Nadine became symptomatic.
She lived in New Orleans but it was atypical symptomology.
Her presentation was initially GI symptoms and we did not know that association at the time.
5 days later she was in the emergency room, the next day she was intubated and on April 3rd she passed away. She tased away on her son's birthday and 23 days before her 64th birthday.
So I'm sensitive when some feel they lost their sense of freedom. So when I hear people say it is my right not to wear a mask and congregate in large groups. What about my right to live? What about your right? I understand, but it is about doing what we know is right. Doing what we know is right and doing the right things. Wearing a mask might have saved my cousin. It was before we knew this. Avoiding large crowds and socially distancing may have saved my cousin. We know from contact tracing we have been able to track her exposure to possibly a gathering were others had symptoms at that time. Or maybe it was exposure at work. We know these mitigation efforts work. Masks are cheap. Five dollars is the economic impact of that mask, and if worn properly it reduces the spread of COVID, versus the cost of hospitalizations -- the cost of death -- the years of life lost?
When you look at the workforce 18-60 we've had over 1,400 deaths those are years of lives lost too soon. That was our workforce.
For those that have had COVID, we know that some still have issues with their lungs, kidneys, neurological systems. There is a cost to that. Especially to the healthcare system.
We ask that you wear a mask. That's simple. We ask that you avoid large crowds. That's easy. We ask that you physically distance at least 6 feet. How easy is that? We ask that you wash your hands and frequently disinfect common surfaces and stay at home and better yet stay at home if you re not well. These are simple asks to help reduce the spread of COVID in our state.
I wish my cousins had that opportunity to wear a mask, I wish we knew what we knew know and had restrictions on gathering sizes and knew about social distancing. We've learned a lot about COVID from March 9th to now but 1,400 deaths today? We can do better as a state.
I'm hopeful because our numbers are improving showing these migration measures are working.
Please mask up. Socially distance. Continue hand hygiene and disinfect surfaces.
Stay home if not well.
I worry about the children beginning school this week. They have the right to got to school and not have parents, staff, and faculty worry about the high cases of COVID in our community.
Giv. John Bel Edwards
If you have any doubts about the mitigation measures working just look at the data.
You can see it was about 2 weeks after the mask mandates and restrictions that we began to turn around the numbers and it has been consistent at least up to now.
When people hear we are doing better they think they can lift up on doing what they are doing, but we are doing betterbecauseof adherence. We know that if everyone wore a mask, washed their hands, stayed home when sick we would see a much larger impact on our numbers.
A reminder that we remain in the red zone as determine the day the White House Taskforce.
Some of you have heard of the verdict from Judge Janice Clark held in place the restrictions and mitigation measures. This is not the last legal challenge but I am confident that I am doing what is necessary. We are following the science. We are following the data. We are implementing best practices and recommendations from the CDC and White House Taskforce. I am doing with the authority I have as Governor, as I am authorized to do by the Constitution and Statutory Law of Louisiana, to respond to this Public Health Emergency. I am not just authorized, because we are talking about lives I am obligated to do these things as well.
It does not make it easy. It is absolutely essential. It is legal. We know without any doubt it is effective. This is not an academic exercise, it is not theoretical. We know it works.
We still have significant work to do in Louisiana, as we remain at No 1 per capita in the United States.
More than 2.5% of our state's population has been infected and that's just confirmed cases we know there are a lot more individuals who have had it and never were tested.
If we want as much of our economy to be open as possible -- but safely, our schools -- but safe, if we want to be able to engage in as much normalcy as possible... it is the mitigation measures that will allow this to happen.
We can get to a transmissions rate of <1 without Phase 1 or stay-at-home but it requires everyone doing their part -- that is what the modeling shows. We are on that track now if we can maintain it long enough to get below 1. If everyone would do their part we would see much more dramatic results and more quickly.
Title 3 which deals with the National Guard will stay in place until the end of the year.
They are a key part of our strategy.
From receiving, warehousing, distribution of PPE, ventilators, testing, going out to nursing homes as part of strike teams, you name it.
While we are excited to hear it will be extended to the end of the year we are upset to hear that we along with other states will have to pay 25% of the costs until the end of the year, while two states, Texas and Florida will not.
I do not begrudge these states but I will tell you there is not a rational basis to distinguish Louisiana between those two states when we have ridden the crest of both the first and second surge as evidenced by the fact we have more cases per capita than any other state. So I will be working through the Congressional Delegation to re-urging the White House to extend that 100% coverage to Louisiana.
The 25% cost share is about 2.5 million a month so we are talking about a little more than 10 million dollars. So it is not an insubstantial amount of funding.
WorkSearch has been implemented by the Louisiana workforce commissions.
Understands there is considerable anxiety because the $600 federal benefits have expired, know the state benefit is $247 a week and people cannot survive on that
It is time to get those who can back into a job and find work.
There are several thousand jobs available in Louisiana so that is what we are trying to do now.
Each week in order to recetrtify the individual will have to share the 3 employers that were contacted and no jobs were available.
It is also being done because we are concerned about the state's unemployment trust fund.
That trust fund started out with 1.1 billion dollars and is now down to 270 million today and we cannot pay benefits if it is solvent.
We need to either cross the threshold whereby the law increases the payroll tax on employers or employers have a surcharge.
Either way that's a functional tax increase and we do not want to do that. So we are asking for help from the Congressional Delegation and National Governors Associations and directly with the White House in order to get their assistance on this matter.
WorkSearch is back in place. Does not affect people whose employment isn't available because of the restriction that has been imposed due to COVID 19 or an employee who has COVID-19.
Critically important to the state's economy that people enter the workforce.
Census response rate lags the national average. If we do not get more people to respond there will be a price to pay for Louisiana. 2020census.gov to fill it out or can call 844-330-2020 to complete your Census.
Now that you won in court do you intend to crackdown, not he BBQ restaurant in Denham Springs? Yes. We will share that information with you when it is appropriate. When will that be? When it is appropriate. Do you think there will be leftover funding from the CARES Act or Business Grant Program in a time period that could keep the unemployment trust fund solvent? I do not see in the portion of the CARES Act that we dedicated to local government. There is a certain amount, of the 1.8 billion we received it was my recommendation that 45% of the 1.8 billion be reserved for local government. The house went more or less with that, but then did fund $300 million for the Main Street program, and then a smaller allocation for Front Line Workers. We believe that will be completely exhausted and I do not know if money will be left in the Mainstreet Program. I haven't received a report yet and I think it would premature to guess. They will not begin to issue checks until Aug 15, and I do not know how many applications they received, nor how many qualify. We will know by the end of the month, and it could potentially be there at the end of the month. But even if it is there that money would not tie us over for very long. So the assistance we need in Phase 4 of the Coronavirus Relief that is currently being negotiated is critically important for us. We are communicating this with our Congressional Delegation and there have been a number of conversations with the Speaker discussing multiple ways we could replenish that trust fund. On August the 3rd we put $12 million dollars in the trust fund from taxes fro the quarter. It is just not enough to meet the demand with the claims we have. Other states have banned smoking in casinos because they are concerned people are taking their masks on and off, has that been discussed here? I believe that was first discussed in Louisiana as far as I know right now when you just brought it up. My first impression is that makes some sense, but I hate to think out loud because sometimes you get in trouble. I think New Orleans and East Baton Rouge may be the only places where smoking is banned in casinos. That is something I will give some consideration to, but I am not making an announcement today. You've been hesitant to discuss football, have you had a discussion with their administration? I have. I have had discussions with their athletic director and most people love LSU football but we have football programs across the state. I have had an opportunity to discuss with Scott Woodward, the LSU Athletic Director, and they are planning for multiple contingencies with what they will be able to do safely in regards to the number of people they can put in the stands for a football game. They do not know what that will look like yet, and I do not know what that will look like yet. Obviously you cannot wait to make that discussion until game day, we will meet with other schools to determine how far in advance they need to know. They are looking at ways to get people in and out of the stadium in and out of restrooms, receive concessions, without having people grouping together. Will need to see where we are in terms of the data to inform what we can safely do here in Louisiana when football resumes. The good news is we have some additional time because they backed up the return of the season. A number of local bars are applying for temporarily conditional restaurant licenses so they can continue to operate and keep their doors open and a reduced capacity. Can you explain from a public health standpoint why a bar with a newly acquired temporary conditional restaurant license is safer than a bar that does not Because they have to operate as a restaurant. All the rules that apply to restaurants today will apply to them in terms of the 50% occupancy limit, the need to social distance people who are not in the same household, more than 1/2 of the income must be derived from food sales and not alcohol sales. So they would function like a restaurant which would make them safer. Another indication of the efforts we are making is to allow as many of these bar owners as much flexibility as possible so we are not just leaving them the option of pick up or drive-thru sales. Or allowing them to have 2 video poker machines open if they had inside, but it also allows them to function as a restaurant if they are able to do that. They are receiving these permits very quickly so they can get into operation and realize some income as soon as possible. It will be safer because all of their patrons will have to be seated, to distance, and so forth... its something we are doing in an effort to allow as many of these establishments to remain open as possible, but to do so in a safe manner. Is there a recommendation/protocol about how many cases college and university campuses can have without having to reduce people from campus? They are working hard with the Department of Public Health and the CDC to work with education leaders both K-12 and higher education, to determine what to do when there is a case and if there are multiple cases and so forth. We can all assume there will be cases. You cannot have the cases we have across Louisiana, resume school, and not have some of these cases show up in your universities or K-12 schools. It really depends on how many cases, if they are in the same classroom, same dormitory, etc. All of these things are being looked at. I can tell you just recently our higher education community completed tabletop exercises, and a result of lessons learned there they have now gone back and revised their plans and will continue to do that as they learn from one another, and as guidance from the CDC changes. Will you report data based on outbreaks/cases on educational campuses? I don't know. I am not sure what means we have to capture that information, but certainly, what we have we will share. We are not going to hide it from anyone. Before I say yes I want to make sure we can capture that through the means we have in place to update you every day, or if additional things need to go into place. I do not know if it will be a situation where I ask you to direct those questions to the particular educational systems and universities while we report the universal numbers. We will get back to you on that. Is there a point you will use your authority as governor to limit on-campus instruction I do not intend to have to do that because we know K-12 are doing everything they can to deliver an education that goes along with CDC guidelines. So it is not something I believe I will have to do. Higher educational students, especially vulnerable, will do online or hybrid education. So with everything, they plan to do and oversee.... what they are doing came up they from the Department of Health in consolation with the CDC guidelines. So I do not believe it will be necessary for me to step in. Shreveport reports its third death of MIS-C? The medical community trying to determine if that is just what COVID looks like in certain kids, or whether it is a separate medical condition that is tangental to COVID. We've had a number of deaths, but not like the 4,000 from COVID from around the state. So we are obviously concerned about that. It is further evidence that children are not immune to this disease. They are much less likely to have a serious illness, but it does still happens. We see sometimes a young person will get COVID-19 and have a bad result even though there is no identifiable co-morbid condition. It is not the rule, it is very much the exception, but it is evidence that children are not immune. This is why we must make certain the kids are as safe as possible which is one of the reasons why the CDC guidelines are important --- that kids socially distance, have masks, do no co-mingle, they stick to their cohort. That this starts form the moment they get on the bus to the moment they get home. It is critically important we do this if we are going to get children safely back in the classroom.
This public health emergency will be with us for some time. Unfortunately, there is a new normal and the mask is part of that. Socially distancing is part of that. Washing your hands is part of that. Staying at home when sick is part of that. I am asking everyone to do their part.
Understand the progress we have started to see over the past 8-10 days is positive, but we can lose it. If we do what we did after Memorial Day we will lose it. But, if more people adhere to the mitigation measures we will accelerate improvements and they will be long-lasting. We can get to a transmission rate of <1 so the disease is on the way out if we just all engage in the measures. We can do it without having to be more restrictive.
We have a long way to go but I am optimistic we will get there. We flattened the curve once before and we can do it again.
We just need to double down on these proven effective mitigation measures and restrictions and if we can just all o that we will be in a much better place. We will have fewer people getting this disease. Fewer people going to the hospital, and we will have fewer people dying. And that's the quintessential way to be a good neighbor 😏 (mod note: he actually smirked) to just do something that is modest request of you that hardly constituents a burden at all if it means fewer people get sick and fewer people die.
Fear and Loathing in Beaumont, Texas - TDY Edition
This one is a doozy... So, a fateful day around 2010ish I was in that dingleberry of a swampy butthole of land known as Fort Polk doing my train up for a deployment. That's a fucking story in itself. Anyhow, the end of the rotation had occurred, the war against whatever made up name country was won, and we were returning from Polky-land to our dependapotamuses. I was on a contact high as I was personally selected to be a part of my Battalion Commander's personal security detachment and all our joes were hand-selected by the Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and myself so we had a really awesome platoon. How awesome? When we did an escort mission with the Chaplain meeting with local religious leader, at the end, our division chaplain told us that "You guys fucking rocked that shit. Gave me a fucking hardon. That's what this division is all about. Fuck yeah." Preach on brother. Fast forward, fast forward. Anyhow, my Platoon Sergeant came to me and told me I needed to go to the bay where my Commander and First Sergeant were. My first thought was of deep consideration and reflection. "Shit." This can't be good. When I arrive, my First Sergeant's first question to me "Do you have government travel card?" I nodded a confirmation from our Operation BS in Egypt. He looks at me and says "No, you don't." What fucking Jedi mindtrick is this? Did I forget to pay off a debt? Will I be summoned straight to the Division CSM for a beheading as seems to be the operating procedure whenever government travel cards payments come into question. Casually, my commander slides a brigade memorandum towards me and motions for me to read it. I start reading and realize it's a tasking memorandum stating what each company will provide from brigade. Alpha Company... Two NCOs and three soldiers. "Suckers." Bravo Company... Three soldiers. "Nerds." Charlie Company... Three E6 NCOs. "Lol, loooossers..." Delta Company... Staff Sergeant Pickleindabutt. "well fuck me in the butt." BY NAME?! I was the only fucking individual chosen by MY GOD DAMN FULL NAME in this memorandum. How does brigade even know I exist? Why am I being tasked directly? Who put this memo together and how the fuck did they know my name. Who the fuck volun-told my name without me receiving a whisper of such curse. Suddenly it dawned on me and I realized what this tasking needed me for. "hazmat" Apparently I was the only person in brigade who could effectively fill out the forms for our HAZMAT containers. It started where I was just doing it for the company, moved to me declaring for battalion, and now BRIGADE is tracking me. AMO-62 qualification got me again and I was hand selected because my paperwork was the only one that kept getting cleared so they came after me. My dudes and dudettes, I literally volunteered for this course to get me out of a field exercise so I could watch the SEC championship - no shit. I was a dumb grunt and I didn't even know what the course was and just wanted to get my Roll Tide on. I get there for class and they're like "This is for declaring hazardous material for shipment by land, sea, air, teleportation pods, Skynet time travel, and rail." My dumb ass E5 self was like "Lol, when the hell does any infantry dude declare HAZMAT. Cake." A week later I was declaring HAZMAT for my brigade to Haiti so shows how well I could foreshadow things. You know how my paperwork always made it through? Let's break down the process. Me arrive. Me find MSDSs for hazmat. Me find civilian inspector who is overshadowing the process. "Yo, how do you want me to fill this out." Everyone else would be digging around the CFR 49 and I was just like "Lol, I can't read. Let me find the civilian who makes a career of this and ask them." And that's how I became the HAZMAT guy. Fast forward, fast forward. So now I'm part of a tasking that is ensuring our containers make it out of Beaumont, Texas. I already came to Polk on advance parties where I basically had AT&T screaming at me to stop using data while I watched all the episodes of Breaking Bad that was available at the time. Now I'm not even the rear detachment, I'm the past - I'm on fucking ice basically, a forgotten artifact of my brigade's Polk rotation. "Yall remember that one Staff Sergeant?... He told funny jokes... Whatever happened to him? I seem to recall him telling his soldiers to run over g-men at Polk whenever they surrounded his humvee while blatantly ignoring that a 50 cal was rocking them the whole time and then he just... vanished." Fast forward, fast forward. Me and two others will be grabbing a rental and driving to Beaumont. God damnit, I deploy in a few weeks and I'm already getting less time with my succubus future exwife that has a spending habit that makes Target wet thinking about it. Anyway, they move me to the brigade's bay. If you've never been to Polk, they have these hangers where they just stick a metric-fuck-ton of bunk beds when you're field rotation is over and you're either leaving or preparing for war with the g-men. The g-men are the Louisiana equivalent of Taliban and should never be trusted. They call themselves soldiers but they are the true enemy. While you're sludging through the swamps and wondering if you're in Vietnam, they come out of no where with their significantly enhanced miles laser gear and somehow your miles can never kill them. You just hear the beep of death of your gear to inform you that traitorous scum g-men nailed you. Probably for killing a Staff Sergeant they get a three day weekend or something. So, here I am in the brigade headquarters and we just acquired a rental car with a fellow NCO and fresh out of the officer-oven Lieutenant. Lieutenant asks a fateful question "You guys want to go off base." Unfortunately I came to fight the g-men and did not know I was going to be traveling so I had no civilian clothes. So, we agree to go to Wal-Mart in town so I can buy the cheapest of the cheap threads since my wife at the time absolutely had to buy "live, laugh, love" useless items from retail stores at an alarming rate. Listen to me, Polk is the middle of no where. It is a fucking swamp. I hated going there. I literally would shake the hands of people stationed there and tell them "You're in my thoughts and prayers." The place has a random wild horse herd and farm animals all over the place because people just dump their animals there. I had never left the base before and when we drove off I was basically like "Oh my..." It was like driving into a Flannery O'Connor novel but with strip clubs. There is absolutely nothing in Leesville but several strip clubs, a Wal-Mart, some shitty steakhouse, and trailers. Listen, I'm from Alabama and I was even like "Fuck. This isn't even deep south this is deepest south." So anyway, I buy the literal cheapest threads from Wal-Mart for my journey to Beaumont and we decide to go into one of the strip clubs for a few drinks and... holy shit, this place was the most Jabba the Hutt's palace experience I have ever had except instead of Leia they had Jaba on the poles. I quietly order a beer, get propositioned for a backroom dance from a human opossum and could only quietly respond "No thank you I'm Christian" in an attempt to ward off others, and wonder how the fuck am I going to get this LT to drink his beer faster so we can fucking leave. Fast forward, fast forward. We finally arrived to Beaumont and check in our hotel. I'm suffering from a wicked hangover from the night before in Lake Charles which had about 10 women for each male at the bar we went to. When we get to the hotel, we all agree that we just want to get some food and the clerk recommends this Cajun themed restaurant down the road. We go there and there were no tables but three open seats at the bar so we chose that. As always, Army guys are only just going to talk about the fucking Army so we proceed with our usual dose of bitching and whinnying. Suddenly, this older gent leads forward sitting beside us and says "YALL IN THE SERVICE?!" "Sure 'nuff." "YALL DEPLOYED!?" "We have and we're heading back to Iraq in a few months." "FOOD AND DRINKS ON ME - BARTENDER, SHOTS OF TEQUILA FOR ALL OF US AND MY MISSUS" "That's not necessary sir we-" "SHUT THE FUCK UP. FOOD - DRINKS ON ME." And that's how I met who I will refer to as Chief. I call him Chief because later he told me he was a Navy veteran and later he told me he was a Seal - like 98% of Navy veterans you meet. Chief had his lovely girlfriend with him and was the loudest fucking Texan in a bar full of Texans. He was pretty funny but mind you I'm still dealing with this wicked hangover and really just wanted sleep. We eat our respective meals and have a few more shots and beers. "WHAT'S YOUR PLANS TONIGHT!?" "We're tired so we were just goin-" "NOT IN MY TOWN ON A FRIDAY NIGHT. YOU BOYS ARE MEETING UP WITH ME." "That's really not neces-" "YOU HAVE TO TAKE MY OFFER BECAUSE I PAID YOUR MEALS AND DRINKS AND YOU'D BE DICKS IF OTHERWISE, MEET ME AT CHILI'S." Well, fuck. Fair point. We ended up driving to this random Chili's after exchanging texts with them and shit. My LT is all worked up and excited like a puppy because he's hoping they're a rich couple who want to rain down upon us the riches of the world for THX 4 UR SERVICE. I'm more in the tune of thought that they're swingers and probably want untie one of our balloon knots in some heated up sexcapade. All the sudden, this SUPED the fuck up Mustang pulls up beside us. "HEY YALL SEEN SOME ARMY DOUCHEBAGS!?" as the window rolls down. "I'm sorry, we're not like submarines or Marines, you can't go down on us sir." "HA! LET'S SEE IF THAT PIECE OF SHIT CAN KEEP UP" "It's a fucking rental Dodge of course it won't-" his Mustang goes flying off 2 Fast 2 Furious style. The Lieutenant is driving as I watch this Mustang Toyko-fucking-drift into the highway. "Slow down and ask him the location by text. I don't want to die on the road." So Chief proceeds to text us the location of where they are heading. And of course, strip club. We pull up and it's about the nicest fucking strip club I have ever seen. Polar opposite to that fucking swamp trailer we had seen before. I'm walking in my Wal-Mart bin threads clothes like "Fuck I'm not dressed for this shit." There's another couple with Chief now who introduce themselves to us. They're roughly around his age and married. Oh yeah, we are totally in a swinger situation. One of us is going to have to pay the dues and it isn't me. We walk in and sit down at this table and this place is two stories. Huge. Multiple dancers everywhere. "ALL DRINKS ON ME, YOU WANT A DANCE, PUT IT ON MY CARD." He then proceeds to pull out $300 in ones and shuffles them to each of us so we total $100 each. Dude. WTF is this. Then he proceeds to buy a tray of jello shots and puts that on the table. At this time, a Mafiaso looking dude walks up to us in a nice suit. "Thank you for getting the VIP section. Just so you're aware, you will have to purchase a $500 dollar bottle of champagne or a $1000 bottle." What. The. Fuck. We're in the VIP section of this club? Holy shit, how much does that cost? Here I am dressed in clothes that probably in total cost $17.67 and about to be drinking a bottle of $500 champagne. "I DON'T WANT CHAMPAGNE! I WANT SOME REAL LIQUOR!" Gents and gentettes, I proceed to watch this man argue with the owner that he wants Captain Morgan over champagne. I am now at a loss of processing this TDY adventure. Finally the owner agrees to Captain Morgan but it will still cost $500 dollars. He agrees. I just witnessed a man pay $500 dollars for a bottle of Captain Morgan. That I am almost positive that we never opened. I shit you not. I am holding back on throwing this dude's cash around because I'm still worried about the whole swinger aspect and them getting some soldier butthole later in the night when the festivities end. Fast forward, fast forward. Night ends. We bid our farewells to Chief and his friends. None of us was required to fuck one of them. Other NCO didn't drink at all so he drives us back to the hotel so we can finally crash. We do. TDY adventure now can get official and we can focus on our containers like professionals... Hold fast. Rewind, rewind. It's a Saturday. We don't have shit we can do. I'm awoken early in the morning by a knock at my door in which I answer and the Lieutenant is standing there with Chief on speaker yelling about jet-skis or some shit. wat? "He said he told you that we were going on his boat today." Umm.... negative. "MEET ME AT THE DOCKS" Chief yells on the phone and hangs up. So, we ended up meeting them at whatever lake is near Beaumont and let me tell you what... I would have given up my butthole for the amount of fun we had on his boat and jet skis. Jesus Christ, that was one of the funnest days of my life. I had never ridden a jet ski before but was going nuts on it. In less than two hours of meeting up with him, I'm driving a jet ski for the first time in my life trying to keep up with his fucking boat so I don't lose him. I don't really have much to add to that but god damn jet skis are amazing. Fast forward, fast forward. So we get the boat back to the dock and, in case I didn't mention, it was Chief, his girlfriend, and the other couple I mentioned before. I hear them talking about going to some boat casino with a Jack Daniels restaurant. Chief's friend keeps telling me they make a steak that is so good you will want to "fuck it on the floor to relieve your erection" which I believe is a high compliment. They get ready to leave and we bid our farewells. "THE FUCK ARE YALL TALKING ABOUT, SEE YOU THERE." Well okay, I guess we're going to a boat casino lol wtf. We go to a casino and they park the boat at the docks. I proceed to watch these fools drop mad money after eating a steak that I'm not sure I would call floor fucking worthy but pretty damn good. They then proceed to go nuts on the gambling. I mean fucking leaving me at their table with like $1,000 dollars so they could take a quick piss and I don't even gamble so I just stood there like a lost child. At one point, I notice Chief is missing so I decide to go check his boat. Lo and behold, there he is swimming in the dock with his boat blaring music loud as fuck. As I am walking towards the concert, there is literally a party of people dancing to his music outside of a hotel room on a balcony. I walk down and he's climbing back in. About this time, the other NCO from my merry band of adventurers walks up to. Chief asks what service-members carry now in the Army and proceeds to pull a glock out of his boat glove compartment. Alrighty now... I don't really care much for someone to be intoxicated and holding a gun. "Hey you should probably put-" BANG Mother. Fucker. Fucking. Fuck. FUCK. He totally just fired a round into the water. We are at a god damn casino and on the casino property. We are so about to taken the fuck down into depths of hell that I have never seen before. That dancing crew that I mentioned early, they're gone. Andddddd here comes security. Two behemoths of security guards heading our way. Once again, I go into the fucking zone and start walking towards them. "HEY DID SOMEONE FIRE A GUN OVER HERE!?" "Hey brother, that shit scared the fuck out of me." "WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" "It must have been like a boat backfire or something. I thought for sure it was a gunshot at first. I think the water made it sound weird. Scared the fuck out of me." "How do you know it wasn't!?" "Oh I'm in the Army bro. That shit made me think someone was shooting at us." "Oh... Okay... You cool?" "Yeah, I'm good man. Just spooked me." "You need a drink? On the house if nee-" "Nah, I'm good man. Thank you though. Have a nice night." And that's how I avoided being taken into casino prison. Fast forward, fast forward. We bid our farewells and return back to the hotel. Sunday I get a call from Chief's friend who I will refer to as "Victor" calls me and asks if we would like to get a few Sunday beers. We agree and meet at this chill local bar and are just shooting the shit. District Attorney for the area happen to be sitting in there and buys us rounds. God damn Texas really does fucking love the military, Jesus. At this time another older gentleman that knows Victor sits beside me and greets Victor. He asks me if I had deployed and I told him I had and was heading back over. "I thought my war was bad, I feel bad for your situation with those bombs they put on the roads. Scary stuff." "You were in?" "Army, Vietnam. I was a forward observer." This dude then proceeds to tell me stories about hiding in the brush from dog handlers who were hunting them down since they were forward observers. He proceeds to mention that if it wasn't for some Native American teaching them how to hide their scent, he would have been found. Basically learned how to rub shit on themselves so they could evade dog handlers. I'm sitting there in dismay at how he felt bad for my war... I may have gone into Iraqi shit creeks more than I cared for but I wasn't purposely rubbing shit in my hair so I could be behind deadly frontlines. He then proceeds to talk about a battle he was in. How they were being overran at one point by the Vietnamese. "We lost a lot of good men that day. Lots of friends." A slight tear rolls down his cheek and I saw him brush it away. You can usually spot a bull shitter with their gloats of heroism and valor. You know you're dealing with a man who had seen some shit when eyes water. A man who had seen some real hard shit in the bush. I could be wrong but I got the feeling he was the type that buried his experiences deep into his mind and never really got the chance to express his memories. He was a successful construction owner but I'm sure he still has nights judging by what he was telling me. Only to be probably spit on when he came home. He asks to be excused so he can piss. "I never knew he was in the service nor in Vietnam..." Victor says. "I've known him for over 15 years and I had no clue." Bartender says. Gentleman comes back and I ask if I can buy him a beer for his service as he had bought one for me. He agrees. Victor ended up picking up the tab before I could pay for that round. God damnit can I not fucking pay for anything here? I give him a firm handshake when I leave and tell him it was nice to meet him. Later I gave Victor my Combat Infantryman Badge and asked him to give it to the gentleman. Tell him I appreciate him telling me stories and mad respect for a man who had been through some real shit. While we were talking, he said something along the lines of not getting anything like infantry guys. Normally this would be debate worthy to me but I'm not saying shit to this gentleman. He's been through it. "Does it mean anything when I give it to him?" "Means essentially nothing but maybe it will be something to him." Fast forward. I'm going to skip the part of going to a Roller Derby team after-party at a strip club where I saw behemoth sized women picking up strippers and toss money at them left and right. That was another doozy of a day. They were more crazy in the strip club than I had ever seen any crowd be.... Coming from a survivor of Fayettenam's strip club venues, that means something. Alright. I'm on my final day and I've left a fuck ton more shit out of this story that occurred down in Beaumont for respectful reasons. We had to leave abruptly so I was on my last night. I went down to the hotel bar that I had gone into a few times. The bartender Steve was like the youngest 50 year old dude I had ever seen. I thought he was younger than me. Apparently my man Steve is a millionaire with a landscaping business and I ask him why he bartends and he says "Because of the funny fucking stories I get to hear from dudes like you." Oh, okay, word. This other dude is sitting beside me and asks if I was in the Army as I well telling Steve the shit show of an experience I had since being in Beaumont. "I was in too. I didn't go overseas or nothing like you did." I then proceed to have a very meaningful conversation with this dude on how he shouldn't look at it that way. He served and if called upon, he would have answered too. I offer to buy him a drink. He agrees and I ask Steve for a glass of their best scotch at the bar for both of us. I'm paying something in this god damn town before I leave. Just fucking something. I haven't dropped a dollar since Wal-Mart basically and this place has been so fucking kind to me, I'm putting something into Beaumont's economy. So help me God. We talk. We finish our drinks. We shake hands. He departs. I look at Steve and realize that this will wrap up this adventure. My precious Beautmont adventure. What a time. You have been so kind and generous to me. Now it's time to pay for something for this town. Here we go. "Get me tab Steve." "It's on the house, Pickleindabutt." FUUUUUUUUUUUCK. I go on this rant about how everyone is paying everything for me and fuck let me just buy a round. Steve is laughing at me and refuses. "JUST LET ME BUY AN RC COLA STEVE, SHIT!" I finally convince him to give me $0.00 receipt and leave him a $20 dollar tip. The next day we get back into uniform and realize we grossly did not estimate our trip to the airport accurately at all so we are speeding away from lovely Beaumont to whatever airport we needed to get to in Louisiana. While speeding we get pulled over by some Louisiana state trooper. He walks up to the passenger side where I am sitting at. "Who the hell do you think you are speeding like - what the hell, yall going to war or something?" when he sees the uniforms. "Well, we're trying to make our flight at the so we can go to Iraq." Ehhh, not a lie necessarily... "Alright, after you pass the next state trooper at the end of the coming construction zone, you should be able to gun it the rest of the way there. Be safe now!" Wasn't expecting that response but we'll take it. And that was that. I went back to Fort Bragg. Beaumont's adventure was over and I somehow managed to survive. I came back on a regular workday night and went to bed. Woke up to my Staff Duty desk calling me at like 5am and my dumb ass Sergeant Major was on the line which is not what I wanted... "Hey SSG Pickle! Were you trying to fucking kill yourself!?" Dear God, did my Sergeant Major catch wind of all that was going down in Beaumont. I wasn't posting it on social media. Does he know the shennanigans? We got the containers through. Did he catch rumors of his Staff Sergeant parading around in strip clubs, almost crashing a jet ski, partying with Roller Derby girls, having to sit around a hospital waiting area for a day, being selected to be a special guest for a crawfish cook-off... Could they question my professionalism? Am I losing my spot on the security detachment. Did I fill out hazmat paperwork wrong?... What could this mean. "Uh... negative." "Oh shit wrong SSG, never mind." Hangs up. Get a text from my Platoon Sergeant who is acting 1SG at this time and he's basically like "Come in today, now." I get there and he's basically like "Yeah everything has gone to shit for this pre-deployment. I need you in here." Whatever, that's fine. He's solid so I know it's the truth. "By the way, how was that trip to Beaumont?" "bro."
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