Tele-Town Hall Covid-19 Notes

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Tele-Town Hall: Covid-19

March 2020

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Power Coalition for Equity and Justice Hosts Tele-Town Hall for 

Covid-19 Resources & Questions 

Thursday, March 19 2020 

5:30-7:00PM CST


Ashley Shelton- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Executive Director

  • Lives have been turned upside down
    • How it is impacting our work, our families 
  • Pulled leaders around the state to understand the impact
  • Panelists will give us more access to information and resources 
    • To protect our families and loved ones
    • To advocate and protect the most vulnerable populations around us
  • Introduction of Panelists


Adrian Perkins- Mayor of Shreveport


  • What is your biggest concern for the people in your community?
  • What resources and being made available and where can individuals and families access them?
  • Access to testing in Shreveport


  • The virus and its impacts in the greater ways
    • The older population 
    • Have a senior’s committee that I speak to daily 
    • Monitoring senior homes 
  • Shutdown schools, bars, etc. 
  • The economy keeps me up at night 
    • Minimum wage workers 
    • Small business 
    • What we’ve done 
      • Constantly communicating with the public 
      • General guidelines about how to keep people safe
        • Social distancing, etc. 
    • Essential services with government 
        • Found our first case at the city hall (Government Plaza) 
        • For safety purposes and to regroup, we stopped all operations at city hall for 48 hours
          • Thoroughly cleaning the building
  • Yesterday, convened a called with small businesses, our committee 100
    • Outline the economy
    • Develop holistic recommendations 
      • Federal government response 
      • Communities need to ban together who are living paycheck to paycheck 
        • Starting a fundraising effort
    • Loans are not supportive to these small business
    • Trying to find as many grant dollars as possible
  • Major health centers 
    • Calls every morning
    • Main contact is with Louisiana Department of Health
  • Alarmed about testing turnaround times 
    • Bottleneck 
    • 48 hours ago, about 10% of tests had gotten results
  • Fear of being behind
  • Testing is free



Shelina Davis, MSW, MPH- Louisiana Public Health Institute, CEO


  • What are things that are not being talked about enough both federally and locally? 
  • How can we protect high- high risk populations? (those with chronic conditions and the elderly)
  • What are some opportunities for testing? 


  • What we aren’t seeing talked about is the impact on particular populations
    • Service industry, hospitality workers, hourly wage workers
      • Unable to work remotely
    • Incarcerated people
  • Currently incarcerated folks in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers
    • Do not have control of how it is spreading and the impact
    • It’s not a matter of if but when COVID-19 will be introduced to those facilities 
    • LPHIC teamed up with Vera Institute of Justice
      • Low-risk, pre-trial 
      • High susceptible to COVID-19
      • Be released 
      • Supplies needed
  • Asking all people (workers and people in jail, prisons, and youth detention center)
    • Receive the proper protections 
      • Readily available access to soap, clean water, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol 
  • Working and paying attention to our Faith-based communities
    • Play a larger role in people’s lives
    • Faith leaders are trusted sources about prevention
      • Need to be engaged and spread the message

Ashley Shelton- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Executive Director

  • In addition to requests from Vera and LPHI, VOTE submitted a list of demands to DOC and Governor for medically impared, people with low-level offenses and elderly be released
  • FFLIC letter for juvenile release


Shelina Davis, MSW, MPH- Louisiana Public Health Institute, CEO

  • Experiencing symptoms
    • Fever 
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat 
    • Cough 
  • Call primary care provider first 
    • Do not go directly to a clinic
  • Can call Louisiana Department of Health hotline 1-855-523-2652
    • Get screened and told the next steps
      • Next steps: 
        • Self-quarantine at home (low-risk)
        • Go to a facility with information (high-risk)
  • Testing Centers
    • West Jefferson Medical Center (Greater New Orleans Area)
    • Baton Rouge General-Mid City
    • Next Week: Ochsner LSU Shreveport will roll out rapid testing 
    • You need to meet certain requirements before showing up
  • Resources for Mental Health Needs
    • Anxiety inducing times
    • Louisiana Department of Health Behavioral Health: 1-866-310-7977
      • Free to access
      • Counselors 


Ashley Shelton- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Executive Director</span

  • Language Access
  • Making a note of it and putting it in our larger demands document 


Jan Moller- Louisiana Budget Project, Executive Director


  • What does this mean for the state’s budget and possible impacts? Also, can you talk about your recent work and give folks an update on the issue of SNAP benefits? 


  • Enormous amount we don’t know
  • What we do know 
    • State has to balance budget every year 
      • State have a tough time responding to a sudden recession, states can only spend what they take in through taxes
      • When a recession hits two things happen:
        • Demand for services goes up 
          • Over 100,000 people will lose their jobs
        • Money that the state collects for these services goes down
      • The budget that was sitting on the table of couple of weeks, we can set that on fire once the legislature comes back on March 31, if they come back then
  • Talking to an economist Louisiana got spared from the great recession because we were coming out of the Katrina recession 
    • Afterwards there was an economic boom that happened as folks rebuilt their houses, built cars, etc. 
  • When this lifts, there is not going to be that type of bounce back this time
    • People will go out to dinner and a movie but it won’t have the same economic impact as replacing a car, etc. 
  • Louisiana is going to hit a lot harder than any other states
    • It is hitting directly at three main sectors 
      • Tourism 
      • Oil & Gas
      • Gambling
        • Shutdown 
        • $60 million dollars a month that is not coming into the state treasury 
  • We know this is going to hit low-income people the hardest
    • Irregular schedules and do not have benefits
  • Moody’s analytics did a stress test a few months ago to see how prepared every state was for a possible recession, did not see COVID-19 coming
    • Louisiana is the least prepared state in the entire country
    • A severe recession is a $2.5 billion hit to state revenue 
      • That is as much money in state dollars that we spend on healthcare in an entire year 
      • That is more than twice what we spend on higher education in a full year
    • When the legislature comes back, it is going to be a completely different world 
    • The budget that will have to pass before the fiscal year cannot be passed until we get help from D.C. 
      • They can send money to states in situations like this
  • Message to legislators, policy makers, etc.:
    • Wait as long as possible 
      • Fiscal year starts on July 1
        • We will know a lot more once we get further into this crisis
      • We don’t know how long this will last
    • We don’t know what kind of aid is coming from Washington D.C.
      • Last night’s bill provides emergency food assistance and unemployment benefits 
    • More aid packages coming out Washington D.C 
      • First thing to see: bills that put cash in the hands of people
        • The top concern 
      • How to get money to state governments so they do not go bankrupt during this 
        • Pay medicaid claims 
        • Pay teachers 
        • Other basic expenses
    • Revenue Estimating Conference is expected to meet in early April 
    • Get as much information as possible
      • Don’t want to pass a budget in April where you will have to make major cuts in September 
  • Food assistance
    • Bad news: 
      • DHS has closed all of its statewide offices 
        • Call or go online to apply for food assistance
    • Good news 
      • Work requirements suspended for SNAP
      • No more time limits
    • Unemployment claims 
      • 1,700 to 30,000 this week
      • Need more information on how applications are being processed and how we getting those benefits to people


Ashley Shelton- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Executive Director

  • Those of us that are old disaster recovery folks
  • First bill signed by the president
    • There are some good things in there
    • How do we make sure the next bills do not feed the disasters capitalist models 
      • Money for big business and not for our smaller business, communities, low-wage workers, etc.

Ursula Price- New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, Executive Director


  • Low-wage workers will be among the most heavily impacted people during this pandemic, and our immigrant workers are especially susceptible to any negative effects. What can we do to help our low-wage workers get through this time, and make sure they are properly taken care of when it comes time to focus on recovery?


  • We have to make sure relief programs are accessible to ALL people 
    • Especially here in New Orleans
    • Many people are day laborers
      • No proof of work for many of them 
      • No sick leave
    • Worried about undocumented, Spanish speaking people will have trouble trusting without ICE waiting to jump out
      • ICE said they would not be doing enforcement in sensitive areas but that can not be trusted 
      • Trying to access services puts one at risks
  • Excited about these moratorium on evictions and power shutoffs 
    • In a few months people are still going to be in economic crisis and there is no program to help them recover from that
    • Looking for forgive programs 
      • Maxine Waters legislation
        • Forgiving student loans 
  • Commitments made by the city are not being honored 
    • NOPD is still making low-level arrests 
      • Contributing to anxiety
      • We are putting people in danger 
      • Officers putting themselves in danger
      • Biggest issues
        • Use of our tax dollars to give to corporations instead of people 
        • Concerned about small business owners who employ a good number of people
        • We are not built for these moments
          • Especially in rural areas 
            • Reliable internet issues 
          • Social services infrastructure 
            • Not thinking about our Hispanic population
        • How do we make interest accessible to all people
  • There is definitely mental health impact on folks
    • Sense of isolation 
      • Particularly in rural areas 
    • We should not be working towards social distancing but physical distancing and social connection 
      • Can have community for their own mental health
    • We are going to need community for the fights that are in front of us
      • This is just the beginning of a succession of events we will have to deal with 
  • Good news
    • Lots of people want to help
      • Requires a lot for a small organization like us

Cashuana Hill- Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, Executive Director


  • Since eviction court is closed, what recourse do people have if their landlord tries to evict them anyway?


  • Since eviction court has been closed what resources do folks have
    • Governor has issued a moratorium to stop evictions 
      • If they are occurring
      • Lasts through mid-april (closure)
      • Orleans is closed through April 24
      • Have been hearing concern about landlords threatening tenants 
    • Call 3-1-1 for folks in Orleans Parish
      • To report illegal evictions
    • SouthEast Louisiana Legal Services- Local Legal Aid
      • Monitoring the information about this issue
      • Letters got sent
      • Court closures → elevated
      • Evictions are placed on hold 
      • Available to provide legal representation and advocacy beyond Orleans parish 
  • Housing Authorities 
    • Suspended voucher termination and public housing evictions 
      • Should not be threaten 
      • SMOS monitoring housing authorities  
  • There are some issues around the larger idea of forgiveness, and more long term assistance: 
    • Avoid debt 
    • Get folks to reach out to federal policy makers to ensure that housing assistance will be part of the rebuilding package
      • Rental assistance 
      • Mortgage assistance 
        • Join action alert list


Christy Slater- W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Program Officer


  • What is philanthropy’s strategy for getting dollars to the ground in community? How is the Kellogg Foundation and its peers creating ways to innovate and address this crisis?  


  • What most concerning to us 
    • Vulnerable children, families are most at risk
  • Digital divide
    • As Children are home from school and connecting with online learning 
    • Access to technology
      • Devices and internet 
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation 
    • We are reaching out to our grantees 
      • We want to listen, how folks on adapting, how are they taking care of their people, requests from the communities they serve
      • More important now than ever to listen 
    • How we can be flexible with our grantees 
      • How can we look at the dollars they already have on the ground
  • We are talking to our other funder partners,  and how we can fully respond
    • Greater New Orleans Foundation, Foundation for Louisiana 
      • Have put in COVID-19  rapid response funds
    • JP Morgan Chase
      • National initiative they are supporting that speaks to economic concerns 
  • Looking at how federal and state policies are rolled out
    • Hearing concerns on the ground and seeing where we can stand in the gap 
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation made a generational commitment to New Orleans
    • Investing in the community for at least 12 years 
    • We are continuing to stay on the ground 


Susan Nelson- Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families, Executive Director 


  • What can folks access regarding childcare during this time? 


  • Partners from Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Department of Education, Resource and Referral agencies (R & R )  have got a lot information
  • At this point trying to keep child care open as much as possible, as long as CDC 
    • Priority for health care workers and cannot be absent from their jobs
  • R&R folks are running themselves ragid trying to provide child care to communities
  • Childcare services that are closing, will they be able to financially recover from this
    • Already have a shortage of child care centers in Louisiana
    • Help small business stay afloat 
  • Local Resource & Referral agency 
    • Great map on DOE website to find your local one
      • Agenda for Children-NOLA
      • Volunteers of American-Baton Rouge
  • Right now they are managing to keep some level of child care open without affecting a lot of people


Janea Jamison- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Program Manager & Statewide Census Director 


  • Can you offer a couple comments about Census?  


  • No federal guidance they are moving the timeline in any way
  • Narrative and shift with field operations has been put on hold 
    • Until April 
  • Taking guidance from our municipal officials, governors 
  • Big digital push 
  • We are offering different tools 
    • On April 1st asking folks to download the digital campaign 
    • Downloadable graphics
    • I pledge campaign
      • Tag in different members of network and share why it’s important
  • The Census is important more than ever 
    • those Federal resources are used to support health care, food security
  • Developed “Census & Chill” campaign 
    • You have the time now more than ever
    • It’s only 10 questions, will take 10 minutes 
  • Three different ways to respond 
    • 1. Online (laptop, mobile device, ipad, etc.)
    • 2. Over the phone 
    • 3. Mail in the form
  • We know that the bulk of the state is rural 
    • Can call in and mail in form
  • Look out for different scammers 
    • The Census will NOT ask you: 
      • About your credit card information 
      • Political Party affiliation 
      • Social Security number
    • Folks were receiving mailers similar to that
    • Anything that is legitimate will have the Census logo on it 
      • “Dear Resident”
        • Your name will not be on it
        • Do not throw it ou
      • You can complete the census without the 12-digit code 
  • College Students & University Students 
    • On April 1st we asking students to use the address associated with their college or university when completing the Census
    • Parents filling out the form, you can check off that your college is away at college 
  • Still encouraging Faith leaders to join and sign on to  our Census Sunday 
    • Shared messaging around the Census 
    • Every second Sunday of the month
  • Volunteer opportunities 
    • Heightening our virtual opportunities 
      • Hustle – peer-to-peer texting 
      • Phone Banking
        • Encouraging folks to engage and participate in the Census
  • During May, if we are able to, the Census enumerators will begin knocking on doors to complete the Census
  • New Orleans Data Center partnerships 
    • Initially was to help develop our field strategy
    • We will be able to see who responds to the Census in live
      • How we can target folks with our Census campaign
    • Can go onto the website and see the Census map for New Orleans and other larger metro
  • Push out the word and take use of the digital tools on our website
    • Webinars, toolkits, etc. 


Ashley Shelton- Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Executive Director

  • Map from Data Center and how powerful the data is and the increase from 10 years ago 
    • Jefferson Parish
      • 13,000 more Black people
      • 32,000 more Latinx people
    • East Baton Rouge Parish
      • 40,333 more Black people
      • 11,000 more Latinx people
    • Caddo Parish
      • 8,008 more Black people 
      • 3,200 more Latinx people
    • Bossier Parish 
      • 5,500 more Latinx people
    • Rapides Parish
      • 3,200 more Black people 
    • Calcasieu Parish 
      • 5,000 more Latinx people
  • Continuing to see where other communities of color are moving around the state


  • IMPORTANT UPDATE from the Governor: There is a lot of FALSE information flying around right now. Listen to officials. Below is information from the Office of the Governor:
    • The National Guard is being deployed to help with sites that have been set up to house persons who are awaiting test results and do not have a place to stay, to help stand up drive-thru testing sites, and to help evaluate structures that may serve as temporary hospitals to support the medical surge we anticipate. 
    • The National Guard has NOT been deployed to invoke martial law. 
    • Local governments have the ability to shelter in place without approval or direction of the governor.
    • Shelter in place, as implemented by other municipalities and states, is not a complete lockdown that requires people to not leave their homes.  People are still allowed to go to work, to go to the grocery store, to go to the pharmacy, to go to the doctor, etc.
      • The idea is that you are not going to more places than you need to go 
  • Presidential Primary and Judicial races in Louisiana 
    • Election day is moved to June 20 (was April 4) 
    • Early Voting June 6-13
    • Voter Registration Deadlines extended 
      • In-person or by mail: May 20 
      • Online: May 30


Sharon Broome- President-Mayor of Baton Rouge


  • What are the things you are thinking about as you try to move the city of Baton Rouge through this pandemic? 
  • What are the testing sites in Baton Rouge?  


  • One of my biggest concerns is to make sure people are getting tested and that we have the resources for people who come up with positive tests
  • The economic stability of families and households and how long it will last is also a concern
  • Took a proactive step as it relates to testing
    • The Mayor’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
    • Established a testing site at the Baton Rouge General-Mid-City Hospital
      • In collaboration with our hospitals
      • Not federally run or state run 
      • It is a volunteer invitative 
      • Since Monday our numbers are close to 600 people who have been tested 
    • We are doing our best to facilitate those individuals who are the most vulnerable in our population and those with underlying health issues
  • We want to make sure people who do not have insurance connect with a primary care physician so if they need an order they can get one 
    • Have partnered with our Federally Qualified Health Centers and Clinics helping us to navigate that  
  • Signed an executive order that suspended all disconnection of public utilities 
    • Reached out to the Public Service Commission 
    • AT&T is establishing a programming who are part of the free lunch program to get access to internet capabilities
  • On the Federally level with FHH loans
    • Mortgages and evictions have been suspended
    • Looking for legal stand that I can take as an elected official 
  • “Keep Baton Rouge Serving by Giving Back to those who Serve You”
    • People who are part of the service industry 
    • Encouraging big business to purchase gift cards of restaurants as we work through this 
    • 20% of that purchase will go to cover the lost wages and tips of those employees 
  • Baton Rouge All Hazard Preparation Task Force 
    • Meeting to cover every area 
      • The social impact of COVID-19 on our community 
      • Coming up with responses we can enact 
    • We are the operators of Head Start Program
      • Starting on Monday, we will be supporting those Head Start parents and families by providing daily breakfast and lunch from 10:00AM-1:00PM
    • We are doing our best to respond to needs that we are thinking through and that have come from our communities
  • Build Baton Rouge
    • Providing individuals to link to resources for small businesses 
      • Partnerships through Louisiana Department of Economic Development and Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce, Non-Profit LANO, True Fund Financial  


Q & A from Participants

Q: Velva-Alexandria, LA: What about Internet access to poor neighbors. In Alexandria, La 48% of low income communities do not have internet. HughesNet and other satellite providers should be consulted to provide internet to everyone at this time

A: We are going to provide a set of recommendations for folks

Q: For Jan Moller/Davante Lewis: Will people filing for unemployment due to the virus still need to meet existing requirements for length of employment to be eligible for benefits? 

A: Yes, those requirements at the moment are still in place. The Workforce Commission is looking to amend some of their rules and some rules will be changing, which rules we do not know. Update on employment and insurance:  If you were laid off this week, they have until Saturday at 5:00PM to make their claim. They have to be unemployed, if you have been zeroed out with your hours unfortunately that does not count for that individual. We are working with the Workforce Commission about potential rule changes.

Q: For Cashuana Hill: There is a number of our families that have called 3-1-1 with housing and other challenges, but the operators at 3-1-1 do not seem to be willing or able to address their issues. How is the 3-1-1 line supposed to work to help solve problems?

A: The 3-1-1 line is supposed to work and people are supposed to get their questions answered and be directed toward resources. Unfortunately, we know that doesn’t always happen. We have been asked to share that 3-1-1 is available as a resource at this time. The folks we are working with, we haven’t heard that 3-1-1 is not able to assist with this issue. I know there is increased attention from the Mayor’s office because of how widely spread this issue of eviction is likely to be. I want to point out that is not the only option. Some people are taking their issues to the press, there is organizing that is going on, people who do want to get legal assistance and representation from LA Fair Housing Action Center or SouthEast Louisiana Legal Services in the event that 3-1-1 is not meeting the needs of resources and assistance.

Q: Student Loan Relief Stimulus? The student loan forgiveness should be placed as important as the Airline, Cruise Ship and Industrials Bailout. 

A: The key thing moving forward is seeing what Washington D.C. passes and how much flexibility it gives to the state and what does the state do with that money.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]