Last week we were lectured by Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health that pointing out the obvious inconsistencies in data used to fuel the governor’s COVID-19 lockdowns was akin to deliberately eroding the public’s trust in Louisiana’s medical community, that doing so was “scary,” and that it was all done on the basis of rumor and innuendo. Somebody’s cousin’s friend said something about being counted twice as a COVID-19 case, but none of it was true…that kind of thing.
Except there had already been an official statement put out by a parish government office, that of the Red River Parish office of homeland security, which had done a deep dive into their own parish records and found that, instead of 96 COVID-19 cases as reported by LDH, the real number was 58.
The governor and his people dismissed that. But now another parish is calling out Edwards’ administration for its questionable record-keeping…
The DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office is the second agency in Northwest Louisiana to adjust positive COVID-19 numbers because of duplicated numbers from the state.
The sheriff’s office on Monday said the total number of cases has been adjusted to 386, down from 491 last reported.
“It has come to our attention that many recorded cases in our parish are duplicated,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. “This could be caused due to individuals being tested multiple times after first testing positive.”
The Red River Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness last week said it discovered duplication of numbers received from the state and was able to reduce overall totals by about 40 percent. State health officials disputed there were duplications in Red River’s cases.
DeSoto’s case numbers are reported to the sheriff’s office since Sheriff Jayson Richardson also serves as the head of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for the parish.
What’s the old saying? If you can do it more than once it’s not luck?
For this entry, we’ll leave out Edwards’ running battle with Attorney General Jeff Landry on the gross overreach his COVID-19 response has become. Landry reiterated yesterday that the governor is out of bounds with respect to his mask mandate and bar closure, something sure to be litigated in the courts soon by a variety of potential plaintiffs.
From the start the numbers the state has been keeping have been questionable, to say the least, and the entire COVID-19 response is shot through with poor incentives and media manipulation – not just in Louisiana. But here, we’ve already seen that Louisiana is counting people who didn’t die of COVID-19 as having done so – even in a few cases where the victim never tested positive for it. The hospitalization issue has also been one which is laced with a healthy dollop of fraud; people coming into hospitals are routinely tested for the virus and if they’re positive they’re counted as COVID-19 hospitalizations even if they’re asymptomatic and in the hospital for something entirely different.
And of course the explosion in testing, in which Louisiana is regularly topping some 20,000 tests per day in a population of only 4.5 million, makes for an exceptionally friendly canvas on which to paint an imaginary picture. LDH has been estimated to waste a billion dollars a year on Medicaid fraud because it does such a shoddy job of record-keeping; does anybody think they’re capable of funneling 20,000 test results a day into a system without duplicating cases based on positive tests?
The 20-40 percent range of fraud Red River and DeSoto have found is likely widespread around the state. In more populous parishes like Caddo, East Baton Rouge, Orleans and Jefferson you could easily have on the high side of that number. We’ve already seen once that the state had to do a mass recalibration of its numbers downward; on Monday they reported over 3,000 “new” cases, some dating all the way back to May.
From this wildly inaccurate set of records we’re expected to trust Edwards as he imposes mask mandates, shutters businesses by fiat and is now rumored to be contemplating taking the state back to Phase 1.
We continue saying that it’s past time for Louisiana’s legislature to turn in the petition canceling Edwards’ emergency declaration. Less than 10 more members of the House of Representatives need to sign it in order to lift the current insanity and put the state back to work, and as Edwards gleefully sets what’s left of Louisiana’s economy on fire it’s difficult to understand how those legislators can’t get their act together.
House Republican Delegation chair Blake Miguez sees this for what it is. In a Facebook post over the weekend Miguez made an excellent case for gaining those 53 signatures and stopping the insanity…
This brings back memories of when the Governor’s office used fear-mongering last legislative term to encourage legislators to vote to raise your taxes. There was a phrase to describe it at the time called “fear season.” Do you remember when LSU football was threatened by our Governor?
It’s absurd to think that revoking the governor’s declaration would preclude the hospitals from continuing to coordinate with federal and local authorities on assessment, mitigation, and response to COVID-19. Or that the Louisiana Department of Health would no longer have authority to decontaminate facilities determined to be a danger from virus outbreak. The Departments have the statutory and regulatory authorities to continue to do all of this unless the Governor explicitly orders them not to respond.
The whole point of “the petition” is to remove the Governor’s extraordinary emergency powers allowing the legislature a seat at the table to be a voice of the people they represent. Our Constitution defines separation of powers and prevents the Executive branch from making law. “The petition” is our only safeguard to preserve the balance of power and to prevent abuse. No one person should have this much power to decide what is best for all of us. We should be making these decisions together with elected bodies to determine what is best for our State to move forward.
Miguez was responding to an Advocate article quoting the head of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge who alleged that turning in the petition would have “devastating” consequences to the state’s COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, the mask mandate in the city of Shreveport, which was enjoined by a local district judge just before Edwards imposed his own statewide mandate, was tossed out entirely. U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson had gotten into a war of words with that city’s mayor over the mandate and yesterday managed to gloat just a little over Judge Craig Marcotte’s decision…
Earlier today, the Shreveport mayor’s mandate was enjoined as unconstitutional. This was an obvious conclusion and the court got it exactly right. As I’ve said from the beginning, everyone should wear a mask if they can, but government officials can’t trample on the Constitution to force compliance. We can protect public health AND fundamental rights at the same time.
Excerpt: “During the hearing, [Judge Craig] Marcotte said he is in favor of wearing masks and understood the attempted efforts by the mayor to help the welfare of the citizens. However, the judge believes the mayor did not have the authority to require citizens to wear masks and found the executive order unconstitutional. The judge also noted that Perkins’ order is ‘riddled with problems.'”
So why hasn’t the Legislature stepped in and put a stop to this continuing assault on Louisiana’s economy and the liberty of its citizens? Ask around among the legislators on the House side, and what they’ll tell you is that House Speaker Clay Schexnayder is standing hard against the petition. Schexnayder, who has been repeatedly lied to by Edwards – most notably when the governor told him he was lifting his stay-at-home order at the end of April and then proceeded to keep it in place for two more weeks – apparently believes that federal funding which the state already has in hand to the tune of $1.8 billion (a half-billion of which it doesn’t even have a place for) is in jeopardy if the emergency declaration goes away.
Because that’s what Edwards tells him. As Edwards’ minions give away free McDonald’s at COVID-19 testing sites in order to gin up positive case counts while screaming that he’s running out of testing kits after using more than a million of them in less than three months.
We’ve said this before, but Schexnayder’s position fails miserably as a matter of tactics and leverage. If he doesn’t want to drop the plunger on the emergency declaration and still do his job as a check against dictatorial edicts coming from the Fourth Floor, what he ought to be doing is securing the majority the petition needs and then taking it in hand for himself. At that point Schexnayder is in position to march into Edwards’ office and deliver ultimatum after ultimatum based on the will of the Legislature – on masks, on business reopenings, on school reopenings and so forth. And he’ll get cooperation if not capitulation, because the alternative is to file the petition and end the emergency, thus bringing Louisiana back to normal everywhere the local governments haven’t imposed lockdowns of their own (some of which, as we’ve seen in Shreveport, don’t hold up in court).
This is a matter of will. It isn’t a matter of reality or good government. The virus is treatable, it’s not a particular threat to life or long-term health for people who don’t fit a specific risk profile, it’s not a threat to children and it has been used as a pinata for people seeking to draw down government funding, which is the primary driver of the non-stop hysteria, broken only by the promotion of the Black Lives Matter unrest in May and June.
As for those mask mandates, we’ll soon find out they don’t work. California has had one in place for nine weeks, and in that time COVID-19 cases are up more than 250 percent. Rather than admitting the mandate doesn’t work, public health bureaucrats there are blaming people who won’t wear a mask, which is (1) ludicrous to explain a 250 percent increase in cases, (2) proof of exactly why the mandate doesn’t work and (3) precisely what’s coming to Louisiana.
Sign the petition, end the emergency, and give the people of Louisiana the tools to protect themselves from the virus. Louisiana’s government has been a disastrous failure in protecting our health, safety, and liberty, and it’s time to pull it off our necks.