Parish President Hotard holds press conference following 1st presumptive case of COVID-19: All Parish departments remain open

Published 12:58 pm Saturday, March 14, 2020

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ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – Late Friday night, St. John the Baptist Parish received word from the governor and health officials that a St. John resident tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). That resident is currently being treated in Jefferson Parish.

As in all presumptive cases, the test must be sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation. No further information regarding the individual’s age, sex or town of residence has been provided to Parish officials, as patient confidentiality laws are in place.

The presumptive positive case came hours after St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard declared a state of emergency, following the lead of Governor John Bel Edwards’ proclamation to close all schools and ban all gatherings of more than 250 people through April 13.

Hotard hosted a press conference Saturday morning to update the public on the ongoing situation. She said all St. John Parish government departments remain open and operational while upholding heightened disinfecting procedures.

During the conference, Hotard urged local businesses to examine sick leave and work from home policies. She added that employees should be encouraged to stay home if not feeling well.

With more people staying home, Hotard acknowledged that the coronavirus will impact small businesses in St. John Parish. She said the emergency declaration opens a door for small businesses to receive assistance if and when federal emergency resources trickle down to the state level. Quick action was essential for the economic and physical health of the community, Hotard said.

“Following emergency operations by Governor John Bel Edwards, I declared a state of emergency in St. John so we are better equipped to deal with this emergency and have access to resources and funding made available by the state through their declaration,” Hotard said. “We have been monitoring the ongoing situation, remaining in touch with our partnering agencies, discussing a plan of action with department heads and public safety officials as well as ensuring our employees are taking proactive measures within their workspaces.”

In accordance with the governor’s declaration, St. John has cancelled all gatherings of more than 250 people, and all local schools are closed until April 13. The sheriff has issued a curfew for minors under the age of 17, beginning at 10 p.m.

There are currently no plans for a shelter-in-place lockdown. However, Hotard encourages the most vulnerable populations of residents – those 60 years or older or with underlying health conditions – to practice social distancing and stay home when possible.

Food drop-off and delivery services are not being offered by parish administration at this time. However, officials are in contact with public health officials and schools to see if lunches will be offered to students during school closures.

COVID-19 testing sites are not currently offered within St. John the Baptist Parish.

“We’ve made requests to the state,” Hotard said. “It’s a concern nationwide. Most parishes don’t have available testing because there isn’t widespread testing available. It’s a concern not just for locals, but all the way up.”

Sheriff Mike Tregre said his officers will continue to take normal precautions when transporting residents. If an individual is visibly sick and suspected to have coronavirus, Tregre said his team will contact health officials and follow recommended policies set forth by the CDC.

No further information is available at this time. For updates, please refer to, St. John the Baptist Parish social media, the government access channel and the CDC and the Department of Health websites. Residents may also call the state General Health Hotline for COVID-19 at 1-855-523-2652, or dial 211 or text COVID to 898-211 for information.

Hotard asks that residents only seek credible sources and avoid spreading rumors or false information.

“We want our residents to know there is no reason to panic, but we want you to continue to do your part to prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases, including COVD-19,” she said.

Please continue taking the following precautions to limit the spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Wash your hands, frequently, for at least 20 seconds.
  • When you are not able to wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Cover your coughs
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces
  • Call a doctor if experiencing symptoms including a fever, cough or shortness of breath