The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has caused a near-doubling of persons in the hospital in Louisiana in just one week. The state Department of Health reports 9,545 new cases in just seven days. Hospitalizations are at 449; up from about 250 last week. The Omicron variant accounts for about 84-percent of known cases. It is more infectious than previous variants, but appears to have less severe symptoms. LDH says take precautions against possible infection or re-infection.
2021 was a fairly good year for economic development in our state, despite the challenges. Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson says it could have easily been disastrous, with the ongoing COVID pandemic, the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Ida, and more…:
CUT 12(14) “…new capital investment.”
Pierson says this year saw deals struck to build a $10-billion liquid natural gas facility in Cameron Parish, hundreds of millions for expansions and improvements at Louisiana refineries and port facilities, plus major investments from the nations’ biggest online retailer; Amazon.
Christmas is behind us and the New Year is coming soon, and soon after that … tax time. Brooke Thorington has some filing tips…:
CUT 02(32) “…Thorington.”
Residents in the Baton Rouge area are still in the dark about what caused a loud concussive boom heard between 10:30 and 11 pm on Christmas Eve. The explosion was heard by people for many miles in and around the Capital City. So far, there’s been no explanation, but the good news: nothing has been reported blown up either.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled in one week as the Omicron variant has been spiking, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. Over 9-thousand have tested positive for the virus in the past week, and about 450 are hospitalized. LDH says just over 80-percent of those are not fully vaccinated.
Construction of an elevated eight-mile stretch of Highway 1 will begin in January. Brooke Thorington has more…:
CUT 01 (31) “…Thorington.”
As the end of 2021 approaches, many start to put together their income tax filing strategies. Jonathan Stoltz is a Certified Public accountant with Malcolm M. Dienes (DEEN-us) in Metairie. He says, under normal circumstances, taxpayers look to minimize earnings and investment income in the current year – to avoid a big tax hit – but tax code changes are expected in the New Year…:
CUT 06 (09) “…pushing off deductions.”
Stoltz says financial experts believe Congress will changes the tax code in 2022; raising federal income tax rates for the higher wage earners. He says better to pay taxes now, at a lower rate, than to wait and see how high it goes for next year.
..and now a look at the markets…
It’s Christmas Eve, but the weather is anything BUT winter-y. After some cooler days in the early part of the week, a warming trend has moved over Louisiana; bringing unseasonably warm temperatures. State Climatologist Barry Keim says today’s afternoon highs across the state will top out in the mid-to-upper 70’s…:
CUT 07 (06) “…for the highs.”
That’s near-record heat for Christmas. The warmest Christmas on record was 85 degrees, set back in 1903.
Governor John Bel Edwards will take a little bit of time away from his executive duties to enjoy the Christmas holiday. Mr. Edwards says he wants to catch up on his reading, but also to do what sportsmen do in the Sportsman’s Paradise…:
CUT 13 (07) “…gonna be great!”
Governor Edwards wishes everyone a very safe, healthy, and Merry Christmas.
The St. Tammany Parish coroner says an inmate found near death in his jail cell was not the victim of foul play, but rather of failing out of his bunk. The post-mortem determine that 39-year-old Jacorey Clark died of injuries to his skull and neck after falling from his upper bunk. He was taken to a hospital, where he later passed away.
Bonfires on the Levee return, after missing a year due to the pandemic. The annual tradition of building huge and often complex structures along the Mississippi River, then setting them ablaze is expected to draw thousands to the River Parishes tonight. Jay Robichaux is director of the local Tourism Commission. He says they are all amazing, but there’s this one is particular…:
Cut 10 (11) “…unique bonfire.”
He says get there early enough to see it BEFORE it’s set alight. Dress for warmer weather.
After the COVID pandemic dimmed the lights to guide Pere Noel in on Christmas Eve last year … the annual tradition of Bonfires on the Levee returns. More than 300 wooden structures will light up the skies tonight and organizers are expecting more visitors than usual this year. Executive Director of the Louisiana River Parishes Tourist Commission Jay Robichaux says wear comfortable shoes and dress for unseasonably warm weather…:
CUT 09(10) “…a great time.”
One particularly spectacular bonfire assembly is a huge and very realistic blue crab. Plan on getting their early to see it and other structures before the matches are lit.
Next time, let the man finish fueling up. A Slidell man is in jail, after he stole a victim’s car right from the gas pump, while the owner was filling the tank. The trouble is, the vehicle’s owner had just begun and the car was on empty…so the thief didn’t make it very far. 31-year-old Arsenio Wells was caught by cops a short time later in Eastern New Orleans. You guessed it. He was getting gas.
Governor John Bel Edwards will take a little bit of time away from his executive duties to enjoy the Christmas holiday. Mr. Edwards says he has some plans to relax indoors…:
CUT 12(06) “…the holiday period.”
Mr. Edwards says he also plans some deer hunting time, and says he doesn’t even care if he gets a buck or not; he just wants to go.
COVID is forcing the Saints to adjust for a second week. Last week it was head coach Sean Payton and now about two handfuls of players including their top two quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian are on COVID reserve. Saints Tight End Nick Vannett believes rookie QB Ian Book will be ready for Miami Monday night…:
CUT 03(10) “…be fine.”
It will be anything BUT a white Christmas for Louisiana this year, as temperatures are expected to rise to near-record highs for this time of year. State Climatologist Barry Keim says, hold off on the coats and mittens; you won’t need them this weekend. Keim says the warming begins right away…:
CUT 06(08) “even warmer yet”
For Christmas Day, Keim says we can expect high temperatures around 80, which is a few degrees lower than the Christmas Day record (85, set in 1903).
“O Come All Ye Sickos” … State Police arrest a Jefferson Parish man for running a scam in which he pretended to be developmentally disabled and tricked women into changing his diaper – for a turn-on. 31-year-old Rutledge Deas IV was convicted once before of doing the same thing, back in 2019. He got a suspended sentence then. He likely won’t be so lucky this time.
The state Department of Health says the Omicron variant accounts for over 80-percent of COVID cases statewide. LDH reports just over 28-hundred new cases, as of this morning … with 306 hospitalized with the virus.
The COVID reserve list among the Black and Gold continues to grow and right now Ian Book will start as QB on Monday against the Dolphins. Brooke Thorington has more..:
CUT 01(34) “…Thorington.”
A Vernon Parish woman is dead after she threatened to kill deputies and then herself when officers responded to the call. Brooke Thorington has more..:
CUT 02 (33) “…Thorington.”
Across the state, in Pointe Coupee Parish, a very similar tragedy as man was shot and killed by LEOs after he drove his car into a home, tried to set it on fire, then turned a weapon of arriving cops. 48-year-old Jessie Gaither was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. His motives for the violence are unknown. State Police are investigating, as they do with all officer-involved shootings.
State Police and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission have a message for holiday motorists: “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The national highway safety campaign uses federal money to pay for dozens of officers – both state and local –the overtime needed to keep highways safe. Here LHSC Director Lisa Freeman…:
CUT 09 (08) “…is really at peak.”
Freeman says this is not about money from fines or putting people in jail; it’s about saving lives. Last Christmas holiday saw 181 people killed or hurt in Louisiana traffic crashes.
State wildlife & Fisheries agents report some good news: so far, all deer tested in the state for Chronic Wasting Disease have come back “negative.” So far that is over 270 deer bagged in Union, Morehouse and other parishes near Arkansas, where the disease has been detected. LDWF is still testing. If you want to give them your harvested deer, go to “wlf.louisiana.gov” and look for CWD Testing
The infrastructure bill signed into law by the President last month will mean $36-million to improve 51 of Louisiana’s airports. State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says Armstrong International in New Orleans will get the largest piece of that pie, but the rest will be distributed over airfields large and small. The FAA say the backlog of airport modernization and safety projects totals $43-billion. So Wilson says this money is much needed…:
CUT 04(09) “…effective way.”
New Orleans Police are catching criminals who’ve been carjacking motorists and robbing them at gunpoint. At a press event today, NOPD announced the arrest of three men they say were responsible for numerous such crimes. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson says they don’t seem to be an organized gang, but treat the crimes like some sort of game. He says more arrests are coming.
The holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” highway safety campaign is officially underway and will remain so through the New Year weekend. State Highway Safety Commission Director Lisa Freeman says extra police patrols – both state and local – will be on the roads looking for impaired drivers … and there will also be random sobriety checkpoints. Freeman says this is the worst time of year to lose a loved one in a crash, and even worse if you’re the cause of a fatal crash…:
CUT 11(08) “…from the roadway”
Last Christmas holiday, 181 people were killed or injured in traffic crashes in Louisiana.
The New Orleans Saints face Miami at home Monday night, but they’ll do it without their TWO top quarterbacks. Both Taysom Hill and his backup Trevor Siemian have tested positive for COVID-19. This means Monday will be rookie QB Ian Book’s first start as an NFL quarterback. Coach Sean Payton will likely miss the game as well, as he too has the virus.
State Police are investigating two cases that certainly look like “suicide by cop”. First, in Pointe Coupee Parish, where a man crashed his car into a Fordoche home Wednesday night, tried to set it on fire then threatened law officers with a knife and a gun. State Police Trooper Taylor Scrantz says 48-year-old Jessie Gaither was shot and killed. He says they are awaiting a blood toxicology test result..:
CUT 14 (11) “…dictated that”
In Vernon Parish, lawmen had seemingly no choice but to shoot 44-year-old Chantel Myers, after she threatened them with a gun. She too was killed.Deputies were called to the home in Pitkin because Myers had been acting erratically and threatened others, then turned her anger on LEOs when they arrived. Sheriff Sam Craft says he’s taking heat because some say his deputies should have simply walked away…:
CUT 08 (09) “…get it resolved.”
State Police investigate every officer-involved shooting.
The state transportation department announces Louisiana is receiving 36-million in federal dollars to help improve airports across the state. Michelle Southern has more…:
CUT 01(29) “…Southern.”
A New Orleans man, who was convicted of human trafficking a year ago for a scam in which he tricked women into indulging his diaper fetish, has been arrested again for the same crime. 31-year-old Rutledge Deas IV allegedly faked being mentally challenged to get the women to change his diaper … for a turn-on. A year ago, he got a suspended sentence. He probably won’t be so lucky this time.
A Vernon Parish woman is dead after she threatened to kill deputies and then herself when officers responded to the call. Brooke Thorington has more…:
CUT 02(34) “…Thorington.”
The New Orleans Saints say rookie quarterback Ian Book will get his first NFL start Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. Why? Quarterbacks Taysom Hill and his backup, Trevor Siemian, have COVID-19. Head Coach Sean Payton will likely miss the game as well; his second miss due to COVID.
State Police are investigating an officer-involved shooting in Pointe Coupee Wednesday night after an Opelousas man drove his vehicle into a Fordoche home, and then threatened officers. Trooper Taylor Scrantz says a Pointe Coupee Parish deputy and a Livonia PD officer were forced to shoot 48-year-old Jessie Lee Gaither, who first pulled a knife on them, and then a gun. Scrantz says they are still investigating why Gaither crashed into the home and attempted to set it on fire. They’re investigating Gaither’s relationship to the house, it occupants and why he wanted to burn it down…:
CUT 13(10) “…at that time.”
The incident is under LSP investigation.
State Health Department officials say they now believe the Omicron variant of COVID accounts for over 84-percent of statewide coronavirus cases. The national Centers for Disease Control says Omicron accounts for only 73-percent of cases nationwide … so we are above the curve.
The federal Infrastructure Bill, signed into law last month by the President, contains millions for improvements at 51 airports around the state. DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson says Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans will get $14-million, while small airports in Minden and Eunice will receive 159-thousand dollars each…:
CUT 03(09) “…this bill”
He says the FAA encourages airports to prioritize projects that increase safety and sustainability.
The holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is underway. State Highway Safety Commission spokesperson Lisa Freeman says federal dollars are paying for dozens of extra state and local LEO’s to patrol highways; seeking out impaired drivers…:
CUT 09(09) “…really at peak.”
Coming off a record number of Thanksgiving weekend road fatalities, Freeman says they hope to have far fewer accidents over Christmas.
Deputies in St. Helena Parish seek two men wanted for gunning down an Amite man inside his home Tuesday night. Tyrone Henderson and Dedrick Henderson – ages 25 & 23 – are wanted for 1st-degree murder. The sheriff’s office says they are armed and dangerous.
The New Orleans Saints take on the red-hot Miami Dolphins Monday night. The Dolphins have won six in a row, only allowing a total of 79 points in those games. New Orleans Acting Head Coach Dennis Allen says Miami is also playing complimentary football on offense…:
CUT 16(22) “…win games”
Coach Sean Payton will likely not be on hand, due to COVID … and now news that quarterback Taysom Hill his backup Trevor Siemian BOTH have coronavirus and will miss the game. That leaves rookie Ian Book a chance to show his stuff.