All local government buildings, including libraries and city hall, will be closed to the public beginning Monday because of the novel coronavirus, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said during a Sunday evening news conference.
Although there were no confirmed cases in Lafayette or Acadiana as of Sunday, that is expected to change within 48-72 hours based on the best information available to local leaders.
"We don't want the people of Acadiana to be alarmed when that happens," said Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional medical director for the Louisiana Department of Health. "What we're trying to do, frankly, is prevent an explosion of cases when that does happen."
There were 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, in Louisiana as of 7 p.m. Sunday. Seventy-five are in Orleans Parish. Two people, both in Orleans Parish, have died.
The first coronavirus case in Louisiana was reported March 9. The two deceased patients were being treated at Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.
Guillory said he is working to substantially expand screening in Lafayette Parish. At least four alternate screening sites may be available within a few days in Lafayette, Broussard, Youngsville and Carencro.
Testing still will be limited to those at highest risk and showing symptoms of the virus, Stefanski said.
In the meantime, local leaders are encouraging Lafayette Parish residents to practice social distancing of 3-6 feet at all times, including not sending children to camps or other group activities now that classes have been canceled.
Many Lafayette Consolidated Government buildings will be closed to the public, but city-parish employees are still expected to report to work Monday.
Some activities will continue at the local courthouses, libraries and other government buildings.
Residents may call their library branch and request books and other materials and pick them up at the drive-through window.
Defendants who are scheduled for district court Monday must show up. Law enforcement is working on a drive-through assembly-line system to reschedule their court appearances. Jurors do not have to report for two weeks.
Some hearings and criminal cases will continue as planned at the 15th Judicial District Court, Judge Marilyn Castle said.
Most things will be handled "the old-fashioned way" at Lafayette City Court, including via mail and fax, instead of in-person, Judge Doug Saloom said. Anyone with a court date in city court over the next two weeks need not show up, Saloom said.
The City and Parish Council meetings Tuesday will be live-streamed and closed to the public. Communications Director Jamie Angelle said residents will be able to call in and comment on agenda items remotely.
"The buildings are closed," Guillory said. "But the government remains open to serve you."
The fate of Festival International de Louisiane hangs in the balance. Guillory said it is looking more and more likely the festival will not happen in April.
Gov. John Bel Edwards last week ordered schools K-12 grades to shut down starting Monday. Institutions of higher learning, including UL Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College, also are switching to distance learning.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Sunday said businesses there would remain open, but there will be limits. Cantrell said she and other officials are discussing plans with the hospitality industry, including the possibility of a city-wide curfew and feeding stations.
Guillory on Friday halted some until March 29 some activities in Lafayette Parish, including parks and recreation activities and library activities, although public libraries remained open to the public before Sunday's announcement.
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