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Local Events Local News

St. Paddy’s Free Concert at the River Postponed to Thursday, March 18th

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Due to the predicted rain on Wednesday, the free Chillin’ at the River concert has been postponed to Thursday, March 18th, 2021. Same time and place – the Bogue Falaya Park starting at 5:30 pm! Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Four Unplugged and the City of Covington will still be celebrating St. Paddy’s, so don’t forget to wear your green!

These concerts are put on to provide safe, family friendly entertainment with social distancing in mind. Enjoy the scenic sprawling landscape of our beautiful park while listening to local live music. Masks are required, sanitation and social distancing circles will be available.

Learn more about Four Unplugged:

City Updates Local News

City of Covington Cyber Attack Update

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The following are updates from the City of Covington Facebook page about the recent cyber attack on the city’s server. Sign up to receive updates from the city at www.covla.com

Monday March 15, 2021

The Louisiana National Guard Cyber Restoration Unit worked continuously over the weekend with City Information Technology (IT) personnel. There remains no timeline for system functionality. I am pleased to report that one member of the Guard shared that the City of Covington IT team is “one of top three we have ever worked with.” That’s nice … congratulations to IT Director Quenton Belanger, Police Chief Deputy Trey Mahon and IT-Man Aaron Hebert.

Police, Fire, Public Works, Cultural Arts and Events, Parks and Recreation and Facilities are all fully deployed and operational. Utility Billing and Finance (computer-based functions) remain severely hampered.

Continue to use 911 for all emergencies. Text CPDLA, space, then your message to 847411 for police non-emergencies. In a practical sense, this has permanently replaced calling 892-8500.

Last week’s hack was one of perhaps 30,000 that occurred. More details are available at CBS News Report “Microsoft Hack” https://www.cbsnews.com/…/microsoft-exchange-server…/

Importance of Two-Factor Authentication: Lately we see more and more businesses asking us (as individuals) for two-factor authentication i.e. “text a code to your phone.” Regardless of this particular breach of security, one may now presume the bad guys have your personal information. It is just a matter of time before they make a play on your assets. The two-factor authentication is an important way to prevent them from using your information. -MMJ

March 12, 2021

Yesterday morning around 7:00am we discovered a significant hack into the City of Covington’s computer systems. All systems were locked down including Police, Fire, Public Works, Utility Billing and Finance.

By 11:00am yesterday the State Cyber Security Alliance was on site investigating and securing our systems. The Alliance consists of experts from the State Department of Homeland Security, LA State Police Department and New Orleans Field Office of the Secret Service. They were at City Hall in less than 240 minutes. Pretty impressive.

This morning members of the LA National Guard Cyber Restoration Team began arriving. They are working to get the City back up and running.

The Team’s priorities are first responders, utility billing and then key administrative functions.Regarding retrieval of information, we are currently in the process of diagnostics. We cannot offer an opinion on what was taken or is recoverable until we have a proper diagnosis.

At this point we can speculate it will be a week or so before we have basic operational functions.

The cyber security team has shared we are one victim of tens of thousands in America in this current wave of breaches … the bad guys found a vulnerability in a Microsoft program. – MMJ

Sign up for updates from the City of Covington www.covla.com or follow them on Facebook.

Local News Parish News

STHS Vaccine Clinics Expanding Eligibility to Match State Changes

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From St. Tammany Health System: Governor opens COVID vaccination to 16+ with qualifying conditions

Adhering to Louisiana Department of Public Health guidelines, St. Tammany Health System expanded eligibility for COVID vaccination to include residents as young as 16 who have at least one qualifying condition.

Those working in “congregant settings” – such as prisons and group homes – are also now eligible, and all previously eligible groups remain so.

Qualified individuals can schedule vaccine appointments through St. Tammany Health System MyChart or 985-898-4001, which is answered 24/7. Those encountering high call volume may have more success by calling at off peak times such as evenings.

See below for the state’s new, expanded vaccine eligibility. All of those receiving the vaccine because of complicating medical factors must sign a form attesting that they meet guidelines. Only the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for patients under 18.

Eligibility by age or condition

  • People 65 and older
  • Dialysis providers and patients
  • Pregnant people
  • People with certain medical conditions
  • People 18-64 (or 16+ for Pfizer vaccine only) with at least one of the conditions listed below by the CDC.

To receive the vaccine, people with these underlying medical conditions should complete the Louisiana COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation Form before their appointment.

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30kg/m2 or higher
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Current of former smoker
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Severe neurologic conditions such as dementia
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

Eligibility by workforce category

  • Ambulatory and outpatient providers and staff
  • Dialysis providers
  • Behavioral health providers and staff
  • Urgent care clinic providers and staff
  • Community care providers and staff
  • Dental providers and staff
  • Non-emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) providers and staff
  • Professional home care providers (including hospice workers) and home care recipients (including older and younger people with disabilities over the age of 16 who receive community or home-based care, as well as clients of home health agencies)
  • American Sign Language (ASL) and foreign language interpreters and Support Service Providers (SSPs) working in community and clinic-based settings, and clients who are both deaf and blind
  • Health-related support personnel (lab staff, mortuary staff who have contact with corpses, pharmacy staff)
  • Schools of allied health students, residents and staff
  • Law enforcement and other first responders
  • Louisiana Unified Command Group
  • State Legislators
  • State and local essential COVID emergency response personnel
  • Some elections staff ahead of March and April elections
  • Teachers and any other support staff working on site in K-12 or daycare
In Louisiana as of March 1st, 2021 from the Governor’s Office

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health

Local News Parish News

St. Tammany Parish Moves into Phase III — St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program Update

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper announced today that St. Tammany Parish is now in Phase III.

“Simply by doing their part, our citizenry directly contributed to our movement into Phase III, as we saw a sustained decrease in positive cases and hospitalizations. We want to see this trend continue through perseverance in taking personal responsibility, wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home when feeling ill. If you are eligible for the vaccine and wish to receive it, please get it at the first opportunity,” President Cooper said.

In Phase III, the majority of businesses, including restaurants and salons, will be able to open at 75 percent of their capacity; indoor gatherings and event centers will be capped at 50 percent of their capacity but limited to 250 people; religious services will no longer have capacity limits; social distancing is strongly encouraged and masking will still be required; and bars in all parishes will be able to open for indoor service at 25 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people. Bars in parishes where the percent positivity is 5 percent or lower for two consecutive weeks may have indoor service at 50 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people. St. Tammany’s percent positivity is currently 6.90, according to numbers released Wednesday, March 2, 2021, from the Louisiana Department of Health. Complete details of the Executive Order with can be found at this: www.stpgov.org/covid19-declarations.

St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program or STRAP Update

The St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) which will utilize CARES Act funding from the Department of Treasury, is mobilizing. This assistance is available to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Tammany Parish Government estimates fully implementing the program and scheduling appointments in the beginning of April 2021.

“We know that our citizens need this funding, and we are moving forward to put all of the components in place to roll out our program to make it available to them. We feel it is important for the public to be aware of our progress and have an avenue to pose questions,” President Cooper said. “When the final details are complete and we begin to accept applications, we will make a public announcement.”

Rental assistance provided to an eligible household must not be duplicative of any other federally funded rental assistance provided to such household. Beginning in early April, 2021, the St. Tammany Rental Assistance Program (STRAP) will begin accepting applications for the following households:

  • Households with an income at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI)
  • Households that have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • And households that are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability

Support documentation will be required prior to issuance of payments.

In early April, there will be two locations for assistance: one on Koop Drive in Mandeville and one in Slidell at the Towers building. Neither location is open yet; however, information on this program can be found at: www.stpgov.org/departments/grants. Applicants who have questions should contact the Department of Grants by email at:  STRAP@stpgov.org.

Read more:

Local News

Louisiana Moves to Phase 3 COVID Restrictions

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From the Louisiana Governor’s Office, March 2, 2021:

After Weeks of Improvement in COVID Hospitalizations and Case Counts, Louisiana Will Move to Phase 3, Statewide Mask Mandate Will Continue

Following almost six weeks of improvements in Louisiana’s COVID case counts and a sustained decrease in COVID-related hospitalizations, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced today that Louisiana will move forward to Phase 3.  This will bring most COVID restrictions back to where they were last September. Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since last July, will remain in place. The Governor’s new order will last for 28 days and will expire March 31, 2021.

Overall, Louisiana’s percent positivity for COVID-19 tests is 5 percent, one third of the positivity rate six weeks ago. The state has completed more than 6 million COVID tests and administered more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Since we stepped back into more increased restrictions more than three months ago, the goal has been to slow the spread and avoid overwhelming our hospitals, which we have done thanks to the hard work of many Louisianans,” Gov. Edwards said. “These Phase 3 restrictions will keep some common sense and lifesaving limitations in place while we work to continue keeping the case counts down and administering the vaccines to as many Louisianans as quickly as we can.

“As we are cautiously reducing some of the restrictions related to slowing the spread of COVID, it is even more critical that people take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them. This includes wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, washing their hands frequently, staying home when they are sick or have been exposed and getting the vaccine when it is their turn. The last several weeks have been full of hopeful milestones, including a third COVID vaccine and the state administering more than one million doses. But we also know that COVID variants, which we know are more contagious, are active in Louisiana. In nearly a year of battling this pandemic, we have lost almost 10,000 of our fellow Louisianans, and many people have suffered greatly. It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part to help put this pandemic behind us and save lives.”

The majority of businesses, including restaurants and salons, will be able to move to 75 percent of their capacity and indoor gatherings and event centers will be capped at 50 percent of their capacity but limited to 250 people. Religious services will no longer have capacity limits, social distancing is strongly encouraged and masking will still be required.

Gyms and fitness centers will remain at 50 percent of their capacity, based on recent research from the CDC that raises concern about the spread of COVID-19 in these settings. Bars in all parishes will be able to open for indoor service at 25 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people, but those in parishes where the percent positivity is 5 percent or lower for two consecutive weeks may have indoor service at 50 percent capacity, not to exceed 250 people. Alcohol sales still must end at 11 p.m. and no one younger than 21 years old can enter a bar.  Patrons must be masked at all times except when consuming food or drink, and they must be served at socially distanced tables.

Live music will be allowed indoors under additional guidance provided by the State Fire Marshal. Indoor gatherings may operate at 50 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. Outdoor events may operate at 50 percent of their capacity, with no cap on attendance, but six feet of social distancing must be practiced. Conventions, conferences, indoor sporting events and fairs and festivals may operate at up to 50 percent capacity with six feet of social distancing required, if they receive approval from the State Fire Marshal and the Louisiana Department of Health.  Strict masking continues to be required for all gatherings and events.

  • Click here to read the Governor’s new Phase 3 order.
  • Click here to review the data about COVID incidence statewide.
  • Click here to view the new Phase 3 guidance on OpenSafely.la.gov.
As of March 1st, 2021 from the Louisiana Governor Facebook page
Local News

St. Tammany Health System Adds Another Autism-Certified Department

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sths

From St. Tammany Health System: St. Tammany Pediatrics Clinic Earns IBCCES Certification as Autism Center

sths

St. Tammany Pediatrics joins St. Tammany Health System pediatric inpatient and emergency departments in earning the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). STHS pediatricians and clinic staff completed autism-specific training and certification to ensure they can better treat and manage the care of autistic patients or patients with sensory needs.

“We are excited to earn this designation because it gives local families confidence that they can entrust their autistic loved one’s care to us,” Cindy Brandon, St. Tammany Pediatrics office manager, said. “Through this process, we have learned how to interact with our autistic patients from the time we enter their care space. Everything we do and how we do it shows that patient that we can be trusted and are there to help. This is vitally important for autistic patients because they experience interpersonal interactions differently, and we’re grateful to IBCCES for instilling these skills in our team.” 

For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for education, healthcare, and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES provides evidence-based training and certification programs created in conjunction with clinical experts and individuals with autism in order to provide professionals serving individuals with cognitive disorders a better understanding of what these disorders are, industry best practices, and the latest research in these areas.

“IBCCES is excited to work with another St. Tammany Health System pediatrics department who has made a commitment to treating and understanding the needs of autistic children,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

IBCCES also created CertifiedAutismCenter.com, as a free online resource for parents that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.

St. Tammany Pediatrics’ autism certification process was made possible through the generosity of St. Tammany Guild annual giving to St. Tammany Hospital Foundation.

The heartbeat of its community, St. Tammany Health System cares for patients and families with excellence, compassion and teamwork. It is recognized for quality, safety and service excellence by CareChex, Leapfrog, Healthgrades, Hospital Compare, Women’s Choice and US News & World Report. St. Tammany Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Ochsner Health work together in partnership to improve the community’s health and quality of life. Together, west St. Tammany’s top two independent health leaders represent the most complete system of care, aligning behind the common goals of improving access, expanding specialty care and making care affordable. Under their agreement, each retains its autonomy; neither manages nor owns the other. Self-supporting, not-for-profit STHS is A+ rated by Fitch and receives no tax funding. More at StTammany.health.

About IBCCES

Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Public Meetings

Upcoming Public Meetings in March, 2021 – City of Covington

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Upcoming City of Covington public meetings for the month of March, 2021, including Covington Comprehensive Plan 2030 meeting. All meetings are held in compliance with local COVID mandates, attendance is limited. You can see past presentations and meeting records from the Covington Comprehensive Plan here. Any meeting feedback, input, or questions are welcomed at info@covingtonplan2030.com.

View video of past City Council Meetings here, meeting agendas and approved minutes here.

Covington City Council Meeting

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
City Council Chambers (map)
Meeting purpose: Public general meeting, Covington City Council

Planning Commission and Public Meeting – Covington Comprehensive Plan 2030

Monday, March 15, 2021
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
City Council Chambers (map)
Meeting purpose: Comprehensive plan review and feedback

Another public hearing/plan adoption meeting for the Covington Comprehensive Plan 2030 will be held Monday April 19, 2021. Learn more, review the plan and get involved at www.covingtonplan2030.com

The Covington Historic District Commission (CHDC) meeting is Tuesday March 9th at 4 pm. Deadline for this meeting was February 11th. The deadline for the April meeting is March 11th.

Board of Adjustments (BOA) meeting is Monday March 15th at 6 pm. The deadline for this meeting was February 5th. The deadline for the April meeting is March 5th.

Learn more at www.covla.com

Local News Non Profit Spotlight

Rescues from Alleged Dogfighting Ring in Need of Foster at Northshore Humane

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From the Northshore Humane Society:

Pitbulls confiscated from alleged dogfighting ring are transported to no-kill rescue, Northshore Humane Society, for a second chance.

Covington, LA – On Friday, February 12th the pitbulls confiscated from an alleged dogfighting ring in Hammond were transported to no-kill animal rescue, Northshore Humane Society, for a second chance after living chained or secured to trees in a backyard for years.

According to news articles, on January 28th officers arrested three people and rescued 12 dogs after finding a dogfighting operation while searching for drugs in a Hammond home. Sheriff’s deputies found the 12 dogs chained or secured to trees throughout the backyard not too far from a dogfighting ring, a 10×10 box with 3 feet wooden walls.

After a two-week holding period, the dogs were released and transported to Northshore Humane Society, a no-kill animal rescue located in Covington, LA, where they are now available to be adopted into loving, forever homes. The shelter has named the group after Mardi Gras parades including Zulu, Endymion, Barkus and so on.  

“All of the dogs are extremely friendly and don’t seem to have any serious injuries or medical concerns,” said Northshore Humane Society Director of Operations, Alexandra Coogan. “We know they will make great companions and now need the community’s support to find them homes,” Coogan added.

Temporary foster homes are needed due to the shelter being at max capacity and limited staffing through the Mardi Gras holiday. If you are interested in adopting, pictures and profiles of each of the dogs can be found by visiting their site at northshorehumane.org/dogs. Donations will also be needed for medical care and can be made on their site as well at northshorehumane.org

Visit the Northshore Humane Society Facebook page for more photos and video of the rescue pups: www.facebook.com/NorthshoreHumaneSociety

Local News Parish News

Dropping Temperatures Trigger Cold Weather Preparations

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

With predictions from the National Weather Service of sustained freezing temperatures early next week, St. Tammany Parish Government has instituted its severe cold weather protocol.

“Citizens should prepare now for freezing temperatures early next week. Plan to protect your pets, pipes and plants, and ensure elderly neighbors and family members have a safe and effective way to heat their homes,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “Citizens should stay tuned to local weather and monitor road conditions as the temperatures drop.”

The National Weather Service forecast indicates the coldest temperatures in our region will occur early Tuesday and could drop into the low twenties. Wintry precipitation remains in the forecast for late Sunday for areas in the state north of St. Tammany, but forecasters remain uncertain as to whether or not it will reach our area.

The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is in close contact with the National Weather Service and is continuing to monitor the situation. Tammany Utilities advises that in the event of a Hard Freeze Warning, all residents should take the necessary precautions, like wrapping their pipes to prevent pipes from freezing and potentially bursting. The Parish’s Department of Public Works has placed designated employees on notice for activation if the weather dictates, and it becomes necessary to prep roads for freezing conditions.

Residents with elderly individuals in their families are asked to make certain they have a safe and effective way to heat their residences. Residents who know of at-risk families or neighbors that could fall victim to severe cold weather should plan to check on them during the duration of the predicted winter weather to confirm their safety.

The Department of Animal Services asks pet and livestock owners to take precautions to safeguard the wellbeing of animals in their care, including bringing pets indoors and preventing water sources from freezing over for livestock.

Local News Parish News

Parish President Mike Cooper Calls on Citizens to Continue Prevention Practices Through the Mardi Gras Holiday

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

As we head into the Mardi Gras holiday weekend, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper is relying on each and every St. Tammany resident to take personal responsibility, and heed the advice of medical professionals to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“St. Tammany Parish, like much of Louisiana, is preparing to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday, albeit in different, more creative ways. We ask each of you to refrain from large gatherings — especially with people from outside of your own household, wear a mask in public, and continue to take precautions.”

President Cooper went on to say, “We are seeing our numbers decline with each passing week. Let’s plan to keep it that way, as we take the necessary precautions during Mardi Gras. Our goals have always been to lessen the burden on our hospitals and healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly to care for COVID-19 patients for nearly a year, and to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy. With everyone working together, we can achieve these goals and get through this pandemic.”

View President Cooper’s taped message, here.

For daily updates on COVID-19 including daily data for St. Tammany from the Louisiana Department of Health, visit www.stpgov.org/covid19.

Local Events Local News

“Chillin’ at the River” Free Concert Postponed Due to Weather

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The City of Covington’s free concert “Chillin’ at the River” that was scheduled for Thursday, February 11th, 2021, has been postponed due to expected bad weather. Stay tuned for updates on a rescheduled date!

Original article here:
Local News Parish News

COVID Vaccine Eligibility Expanded by Louisiana Department of Health

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Update from St. Tammany Health System:

Governor announced minimum age eligibility reduced to 65 and first responder rules widened

Louisiana will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines on Monday (Feb. 8), Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in a Thursday press conference, lowering the minimum age from 70 to 65 and adding all first responders, not just those providing healthcare and vaccinations.

Those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, based on criteria outlined by Louisiana Department of Health at LDH.la.gov/CovidVaccine/, can call 985-898-4001 to schedule an appointment through St. Tammany Health System.

When vaccines first became publicly available in December, they were limited only to Louisianans 70 and older, due to that group’s increased vulnerability to complications from the disease, and to healthcare professionals, due to their increased chances of exposure.

Increased availability of vaccine made it possible to widen eligibility, Edwards said.

“This is great news in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Mike Hill, an infectious disease specialist at St. Tammany Health System. “The quickest and safest way for us to defeat this pandemic is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and we’re excited for the opportunity to protect more of our neighbors here in St. Tammany.”

Dr. Hill added that both the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine – each of which requires two doses – have proven to be both safe and effective in combating the virus.

“I got my vaccine in December, and I strongly encourage everyone in St. Tammany Parish to do the same as soon as you become eligible,” he said.

The expansion of vaccine eligibility comes at a crucial time, as COVID infections appear to be leveling off in Louisiana following a holiday season spike that stressed hospitals statewide. It also comes just as health officials warn against mass gatherings on Mardi Gras, which is Feb. 16 this year, and which could see another surge of infections.

Specific details about eligibility in Louisiana can be found at LDH.la.gov/CovidVaccine/.

City Updates Local News

City of Covington Construction Project Update from Mayor Mark Johnson

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The following is from Covington Mayor Mark Johnson‘s most recent e-mail update. Sign up for updates at www.covla.com

The City has been quite active during the past 60 days regarding infrastructure improvements. Kudos to engineer Callie Baker for getting these engineering and construction contracts underway:

1) Repave Boston Street (LA Hwy 21) engineering design. Special thanks to Senator Patrick McMath and Representative Mark Wright for funding.
2) That said, the City currently has no money budgeted to repave any of our other downtown or Division of Spring streets. We will continue to focus on repairing, replacing and lining our aging and leaky sewer lines.
3) Updating water line on 14th Ave between Jefferson and Jahncke. Retired Fire Chief Richard Badon had lamented the lack of a hydrant in this area.
4) Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) Chlorine system maintenance.
5) The screening apparatus at WWTP has been broken for a couple of years. This means every object flushed into our sewer system has been hand-raked out of our waste water input. Repairing this apparatus is a good thing.
6) State law requires engineers calculate the load bearing of all bridges every two years. Like most of America, our bridge system is aging out.
7) Crepe myrtles planted near the sidewalk have rooted into the culverts on Lockwood between Columbia St. and Florida St. This has had an adverse effect on drainage. While repairing the drainage culverts, we will take this opportunity to also repair the sewer lines.
8) Miscellaneous repairs (phase I) per 2016 engineering study for WWTP.
9) Replace aging generator at WWTP. Plant receives, treats and discharges about one million gallons of effluent into the Tchefuncte River daily.
10) Extending Philip Drive water line to provide water to Fire Station #2.
11) Safety striping of 15th Avenue from Hubie Gallager to River Forest and at westward bound turn at 15th Ave and S. Tyler St
12) Engineering design for replacement of Lurline Drive from Karen to Division Street.*
13) Sewer line breaks along Lurline Drive identified by smoke testing and cameras will be repaired prior to replacing street.
14) Engineering State required guard rails for 15th Ave / Rattle Snake Branch bridge.
15) Engineering design for replacement of Columbia Street / Mile Branch. No $$s are currently budgeted for actual construction (estimated at $1M).
16) All abilities access path along the riverside of Bogue Falaya Park is coming in under budget (grant provided dollars, thank you Mayor Cooper’s administration). Unused grant funds are being applied to extending the path behind the playground along Mackie Creek.

*As a rule, I do not offer timelines for completion. My life experience as a builder / developer tells me such estimates are seldom correct, create false expectations and disappointment.

Also, a shout-out to Chief Administrative Officer Erin Bivona, Director of Finance Stephen Sanders and Public Works Director Chris Davis. The procurement process is tedious, heavily regulated, counter to typical business methods and miserable. Their work and expertise are critical to us overcoming the waterfall of bureaucracy.

www.covla.com

City Updates Local News

Update from Councilman Mark Verret – CPD Update, Sewer & Road Improvements

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This update is from Covington City Councilman Mark Verret, District E:

Largely due to the efforts at increasing police pay, I am pleased to report that we have six new recruits who have undergone training at the Police Academy and three newly hired, experienced officers with updated Field Training. It is unbelievable that we have been so severely understaffed for so long.  As can easily be seen on a daily basis, we need a fully staffed department as we seek increased compliance with speeding, running stop signs, etc., in addition to daily patrol duties of responding to calls.  We will have five officers on duty along with a fully staffed traffic division.  Thank you all for your support of our initiative in this regard.  Here are our new recruits “enjoying” training…

As we continue to move forward, I would also like to address the continuing deplorable condition of our city streets.  Unfortunately, many of our streets in downtown and especially in Old Covington are in pretty bad shape.  Most of this is caused by sewer point repairs. Unlike many other nearby municipalities, many of our potholes are the result of actually fixing the broken lines.  

The aging sewer lines of Covington have suffered for far too long with many leaks. On a sunny day, our waste water treatment plant receives and treats about 1,000,000 gallons of waste water and on a rainy day, we receive about 9,000,000 gallons of waste water. 

For the past few years, we have been focused on repairing these breaks in the line. In many cases, the “patches” you drive over are the result of an in-depth excavation and pipe repair. After the breaks are repaired, a synthetic lining is inserted into each of the old pipes, giving us an “almost new” pipe. There has been a directed effort at repairing these sewer lines across the city. But our streets are in desperate need of repair as well. As we move forward, I will continue to fight for increased budgeting for the actual street repairs. You may have heard and I am pleased to report that we were able to get funding to repair Boston Street.

In our December 8th City Council meeting, we passed a resolution giving Mayor Johnson the authority to execute a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Louisiana Department of Treasury and the State of Louisiana for a Line Item Appropriation in Act 45 of the 2020 Second Extraordinary Legislative Session for Roadway Improvements which secured a $500,000.00 grant to resurface Boston Street from Jefferson Avenue to Lee Lane.  

If you should encounter an unusually bad pothole, please notify our Public Works Department at (985) 898-4700.

The City of Covington Public Works Department is responsible for maintenance and improvements for the city’s entire infrastructure. This includes sewer plant operations, sewage collection system, water wells, lift stations, traffic signs, drainage and city streets.

The Public Works Department is committed to the following goals:

  • To provide prompt, courteous and professional customer service to the community
  • To improve the quality of life within the community
  • To strive for high standards in organizational productivity and efficiency
  • To keep all city infrastructure maintained at the highest level possible to provide effective and safe use

For after-hours sewer or water emergencies:
Call (985) 898-4700 (24 hours/7 days a week)

Non-Emergency Service Requests:
Phone Requests:  (985) 898-4700
Fax Requests:      (985) 898-4729
Email Requests:   publicworks@covla.com

If you are emailing the Dept. of Public Works about a utility (water pressure or sewer backup) issue or a street issue that cannot wait until the next business day, please call their office number at (985) 898-4700.  This number is answered 24/7 regardless if it is after normal business hours, weekends or holidays.

Although we encounter setbacks from time to time, together we’ll keep moving forward to advance our position with measured progress.

Mark W. Verret
Councilman, District E
mverret@covla.com

Local News

Mayor Mark Reminds Covington to “Slow Your Roll”

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In September of 2019 Covington Mayor Mark Johnson introduced the “Slow Your Roll” campaign to remind drivers in Covington to obey speed limit restrictions. Careful driving not only keeps you safe, but also keeps Covington a safe place for pedestrians, residents and other drivers.

In an email update sent out yesterday, Mayor Mark details a particularly hectic traffic day for CPD on Monday, with 6 car crashes and 221 cars “radar clocked” for speeding, just in Covington.

While the Covington Police Department has 6 new police officers currently in training and 3 new experienced officers undergoing field training they are still currently understaffed. Mayor Mark reminds us that traffic calls take officers from the streets that can be dealing with more pressing or unavoidable calls. Driving carefully means more than keeping our roads safe, it means keeping us all safe.

Visit www.covla.com to sign up for Mayor Mark’s email updates.

CPD Updates Local News

Covington Police Department Hires Six New Officers

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From the Covington Police Department:

We are excited to announce the hiring of six (6) new police officers, all of who will be starting the Slidell Regional Police Academy on Monday.

We want to give a big thank you to Mayor Mark Johnson, the Covington City Council, and the citizens of Covington for supporting our department and allowing us to bring these great additions to the CPD family.

Please join us in welcoming the following new officers:

Brian Ledkins
Cyrus Kety
Marc Gremillion
John Gremillion
Dakota Garretti
Brandon Blair

This week, our newly hired Recruits began their Police Academy Training, put on by the Slidell Regional Police Training Academy. Yesterday, they started their physical training, where they went through hours of grueling physical exercises and worked together as a team to complete the training.

As always, we would like to give a big thank you to the Slidell Regional Police Training Academy for giving our officers the best training and preparing them for life as law enforcement professionals.

Learn more about CPD at www.covla.com or follow them on Facebook: Covington Police Department (Covington, LA)

Parish News

STP President Mike Cooper Again Calls on Citizens to Remain Vigilant in Prevention Practices

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper Again Calls on Citizens to Remain Vigilant in Prevention Practices as COVID-19 Numbers Continue to Rise

As the Louisiana Department of Health reports a percent positivity rate in St. Tammany Parish above 10% for the third consecutive week, St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper again asks residents to remain strong in their commitment to best prevention practices to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

“We all need to continue to stay the course and exercise personal responsibility as we take every precaution necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is critically important as we see our percent positivity rate continue to climb, our hospital staffs strained, and our medical resources negatively impacted,” Cooper said. “We have a mask mandate in Louisiana as well as here in St. Tammany — every person over the age of eight is required to wear a mask in public, including outdoor public spaces. We should all continue to physically distance, avoid large gatherings, and practice personal hygiene including frequent handwashing and sneezing into your elbow.

“If you feel ill, stay home to avoid infecting others. Consider making an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible. We must continue to work together to protect the most vulnerable among us while retaining our medical resources. We are optimistic that these vaccines will help us to move through to the next phase of this pandemic. We need everyone to continue to do their part to ensure that we get there.”

For daily updates on COVID-19 including daily data for St. Tammany from the Louisiana Department of Health, visit www.stpgov.org/covid19.

Local News

Update from Councilwoman Cody Ludwig – Roadway Improvements Set for Boston Street

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The following is from an email update from Covington City Councilwoman Cody Ludwig, District D. Sign up for updates here.

In our December 8th council meeting we passed a resolution giving Mayor Johnson the authority to execute a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Louisiana Department of Treasury and the State of Louisiana for a Line Item Appropriation in Act 45 of the 2020 Second Extraordinary Legislative Session for Roadway Improvements.  

Watch the full meeting here:

Through the efforts of State Senator Patrick McMath and State Representative Mark Wright, the City has secured a $500,000.00 grant to resurface Boston Street from Jefferson Avenue to Lee Lane.  Very exciting news and much appreciated!

Our first council meeting for 2021 will be January 12th at 6pm at the Council Chambers located at 222 East Kirkland St. Full calendar of our meetings and other info on our website. Masks are mandated, no standing allowed and there is limited seating available.

www.covla.com

Local News Parish News

A Message From the Parish President: COVID Update

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from St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper at STPgov.org:

Good Afternoon,

I want to wish all of you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. As I said in my statement early last week, we know these holidays are going to be different due to COVID-19. Based on the Governor’s announcement yesterday of a move to a modified Phase 2, we now have some idea of just how different.

The State of Louisiana is facing an increase that, if not addressed, could lead to further increases and strains on our hospitals. We are back to flattening another curve. St. Tammany Parish’s Percent Positivity Rate is above five percent for the last two reported weeks. For the week of 11/5- 11/11 we stand at 6.20 % and for the week of 11/12- 11/18, reported today, we stand at 8.10%. With this information in-hand, it is evident that in addition to asking citizens to wear their masks, physically distance, and avoid large gatherings with people from outside their own households, we can add that we should avoid the scheduling of public events and festivities that will draw large numbers of people. Hopefully by discouraging such events we will see a stabilization of our numbers.

The Governor has provided a synopsis of the major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions here. In addition, the St. Tammany Economic Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Council has updated our Live Safe. Work Safe. Shop Safe. Action Plan to reflect these changes. You may view it here.

I again want to thank Dr. Charles Preston for joining me to provide a video message urging best preventative practices during the holiday season. You may see and share both messages here: President Cooper PSA , Dr. Preston PSA .

I continue to work to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and I ask each and every one of you to join me in appealing to every single citizen to continue to work to achieve this balance by taking the steps necessary to slow the spread of this virus. It is imperative that we take personal responsibility to protect ourselves, one another, and most importantly — the most vulnerable among us.

Should you have questions or if I may be of assistance to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Have a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving!

Local News Parish News

COVID Update – Statement from St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper

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From St. Tammany Parish Government:

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper (11/16/2020): “I want to wish every citizen of St. Tammany a safe and happy Thanksgiving. We know these holidays are going to be different due to COVID-19. Each one of us can play a part in helping to protect the most vulnerable among us through personal responsibility. We can do this with a few simple steps. Please keep COVID-19 protective measures in mind when planning your holiday.

“When you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, please continue to wear masks, physically distance, avoid large gatherings — especially gatherings with people you have not been in contact with recently. If you are out in the community wear a mask — especially when inside local businesses and restaurants. As I have said in the past, there are several ways to support our local restaurants and small businesses. Shopping with them is one and helping them to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask when you are inside their establishments is another.

“I continue to work to balance the health of our community with the health of our economy, and I ask each and every citizen to continue to work with me to achieve this balance. By protecting ourselves and one other, we can all contribute to our recovery. Please take personal responsibility as we enter into the holidays. Have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.”

www.stpgov.org

Increase in COVID Cases Seen Locally and Nationally – St. Tammany Health System

COVID UPDATE FOR NEIGHBORS from St. Tammany Parish Health System—11/16/2020

sths

All local residents should renew awareness and focus on containing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Today at St. Tammany Health System, 17 patients are in COVID care, an increase from 9 one week ago today. Our inpatient census is 131, and we have discharged 492 patients from COVID care since the pandemic began.

The nation surpassed 10 million cases last week and hit 11 million this week. Our local community is experiencing a spike as well with 8,931 cases to date in St. Tammany Parish according to Louisiana Department of Health. Halloween is believed to have sparked a significant increase in community spread, and Thanksgiving is seen as a potential next wave of exposure.

All residents are reminded as we head into winter, people spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of exposure to colds, flu and viruses, including COVID-19. STHS recommends everyone wear a mask, follow proper handwashing and cough etiquette and maintain your distance from others, particularly when you don’t feel well. It’s also important to protect yourself from the flu with a flu shot, which you can access through STHS Express Care and all STPN primary care clinics.

As part of our commitment to help you take excellent care of yourself, St. Tammany Health System has launched Health Check 365, including a special event at STHS Cordes Pavilion, 16300 Hwy 1085, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. For a single fee, participants receive a spectrum of health screenings including biometrics, carotid artery, sleep apnea, body composition plus screens for lung, skin, head and neck cancer. Appointments are necessary by calling 985-871-5932.

st. tammany health system