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Monday, July 20, 2020 *********************** For Immediate Release
Fix MAAPP Loan Terms to Protect Black Communities Struggling with COVID-19
Op-Ed by Howard Castay, Jr., Board Member, Teche Action Clinics
Howard Castay Jr.
NEW ORLEANS - The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly devastating impact on Black communities nationwide. According to the CDC, African Americans are being hospitalized at a rate of approximately five times that of white counterparts. This is unacceptable.
Adding insult to injury, many of the at-risk hospitals serving Black communities may soon find themselves in dire financial straits. This is a problem that Louisiana’s congressional delegation—particularly Senator Dr. Bill Cassidy—should work to solve before it is too late.
The issue is the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs, or MAAPP—a program that has been around for years but was recently expanded by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It gives hospitals advance Medicare payments for three to six months to help provide financial assistance in these trying times.
Now, however, the program’s overly rigid loan repayment terms are about to kick in, and hospitals serving vulnerable communities could be left in financial ruin, unable to properly respond to the unfolding health care crisis that is disproportionately hurting Black communities. Of the $1.5 billion that went to Louisiana hospitals, the large portion was used by the 16 hospitals in and around New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. These are our people being served!
There are many issues that Louisiana Senators Cassidy and John Kennedy need to address, including (but not limited to):
  • Repayment start date. With an initial repayment start date of 120 days after receiving funds, most hospitals must begin repaying their loans on August 1. This is simply not enough time, particularly with all that hospitals are still going through. 

  • Medicare fee-for-service payments. Once repayment begins, hospitals will be denied 100% of Medicare fee-for-service payments until their loans have been paid off in full. That alone will cut roughly one-quarter of hospitals’ payments, undermining their ability to treat patients.

  • High interest rates. If health care providers are unable to pay off their loan in the given timeframe—one year for acute hospitals and seven months for physicians and other providers—then that loan begins accruing interest at a staggering near 10 percent.
Health care is a human right, but unfortunately it is one that is not fairly distributed in our society. As COVID-19 is devastating African American and other minority communities, we need to be doing more to strengthen our health care institutions, not saddling them with increased financial burdens. Oschner, Tulane Medical Center, and Louisiana's LCMC are predicting huge revenue losses due to COVID and its impact on new equipment costs and patient reluctance to schedule other essential services and surgeries.
Our Senators should make it a priority to fix these outdated MAAPP loan repayment terms by extending the start of loan repayments to at least 12 months; reducing the amount of repayment taken from Medicare claims from 100% to 25%, waiving the interest rate or at the very least reducing it to 1%. 
There are more changes that should take place, but that would be a tremendous start and a signal to Black communities that Congress is on our side in this fight.

Howard Castay Jr. is owner of Castay Media, Inc., an important voice for the African American community in southeast Louisiana, and a Board member of the Teche Action Clinics, serving families in Jefferson, St. John, St. Mary and Lafourche Parishes.

Some Experts Say Face Shields Better Than Masks for Coronavirus Protection
The advantages of wearing a clear plastic face covering, and how to make your own in minutes
AARP - Real Possibilities
by Renée Bacher and Christina Ianzito, AARP, June 15, 2020

En español | By now we know we should be wearing face masks to protect others from potentially deadly infection when we leave the house. But face masks can be hot, and they can irritate the skin, fog glasses, make it difficult for some to breathe and create a world without smiles. It also can be difficult for people who have hearing loss to communicate when mouths are covered, muffling voices and hiding facial expressions.

Are clear plastic face shields, most frequently used in health care settings, a better option?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” But some health experts say shields appear to be very effective at preventing infection — maybe even more effective than masks — for someone going about regular daily activities and not in a high-risk health care setting.
Amesh Adalja, M.D., a pandemic preparedness expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says, “There's a lot of at least biological possibility to suspect that [shields] are definitely better than homemade face masks, and maybe even better than other types of masks as well, because they not only prevent you from spreading it … [and] because it also covers your eyes, it provides more protection to the mucus membranes of your face where you might be getting infected.” 

James Cherry, M.D., a distinguished research professor and infectious disease expert at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says that while experts aren't yet sure about how vulnerable our  eyes are to infection from this coronavirus , “With many viruses, the eyes are important.” He points to measles and adenoviruses as examples of viruses that are known to infect people through their eyes.
Another benefit, says Adalja: With a mask, you may find yourself constantly adjusting it and therefore touching your face and possibly transferring the virus from your hands, but wearing a shield “doesn't really put you in a position where you're touching your face so much, because it's not as cumbersome to wear."

And finally, Adalja adds, “If you walk down the sidewalk, you can find lots of masks that are just discarded there, which are an infection control risk for other people. Whereas a face shield is something that people can just clean themselves and reuse."

recent opinion piece in  JAMA  by Eli Perencevich, M.D., a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and two of his colleagues pointed to such benefits of shields for infection prevention, and noted that “face shields appear to significantly reduce the amount of inhalation exposure to influenza virus, another droplet-spread respiratory virus. In a simulation study, face shields were shown to reduce immediate viral exposure by 96 percent when worn by a simulated health care worker within 18 inches of a cough.” In an April 19 tweet Perencevich wrote, “Biggest benefit of face shields would be inside crowded office situations where air exchanges aren't ideal."

Another benefit? With warmer weather, many may also find a face shield attached to a headband or cap cooler to wear than a cloth mask.

Some members of the public are taking such arguments to heart — choosing shields especially for their ability to keep the entire face visible.

Lauren Lek, head of school at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, in San Diego, plans to have her 750 returning faculty and students wear face shields at school rather than masks this August. “Safety and health for our community is a priority for us in reopening,” she says. “As soon as we saw from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and our local public health office that face shields would be an acceptable alternative to face masks, we knew this was a direction we wanted to move in.”

Noting that face-to-face interaction is key to the education her school provides, Lek adds that face shields are better than masks for students with learning differences, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), because they allow for full visibility of facial expressions that can help them read and understand social cues.

The school has purchased more than 10 different types of face shields to test before classes restart, Lek says, with each posing challenges in terms of clarity, fogging, ease of cleaning and reuse. They also shouldn't cause headaches when worn 10 hours a day.
“With each product we try, we are getting closer to the best option for the start of school in August.”

Double protection?

Some people are choosing both infection-prevention methods. Hope Taitz, an investment manager in New York City who travels frequently for business, began wearing a face mask and face shield together when she saw the pandemic starting to unfold while logging 100,000 miles of travel in January and February. She said one of the best things she saw traveling in Asia were deep bubble umbrellas that can cover you from head to midsection.

You're likely to find only health care workers wearing both a shield and a mask simultaneously, however. “I don't wear the shield alone,” says Anne Mary Orr, a dentist in private practice in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. “At work, the whole point of the shield is to keep particulate matter off the mask. The N95 mask I wear under it helps filter breathing the virus. Our greatest risk is to inhale an aerosol at work, more so than focusing on the droplets.”

Kristi Carnahan, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, says she also wears a mask beneath her plastic face shield to provide more “protection against anything in the air getting into your mouth or nose as you breathe."

That reasoning may make sense in a health care setting, says Adalja, but “I don't think you get much added benefit to wearing a mask if you've already got a face shield on, for the average person.” The odds of the viral particles floating upwards under your shield are a long shot for most of us, he adds: “Someone would have to stand underneath you and sneeze up into you. It would be an odd circumstance that would cause that.”

Keeping the mouth visible

Carnahan acknowledges that masks are difficult for people like herself who have hearing difficulties. She says she finds herself asking colleagues to repeat themselves frequently when she cannot see their mouths. “It is a reality for many who rely on lip reading or ASL [American Sign Language] that masks make communicating much harder,” she notes, “especially because facial expressions are an integral part of American Sign Language."

While it doesn't explicitly recommend the use of face shields, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recently sent a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield asking the agency to emphasize the need for clear face masks and other communication aids in health care settings to help people with hearing and other communication disorders. “If a patient doesn't hear/understand properly, there could be serious consequences like adverse medical events,” says ASHA spokesperson Francine Pierson. Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, for one, has begun using special masks with transparent cutouts making the mouth visible for health care workers speaking to patients with hearing loss.

Whatever you decide to wear to prevent infection when you're out and about, keep in mind that staying safe from COVID-19 means putting in place multiple safeguards, including thorough handwashing.

The most important safety measure, though, is social distancing, Cherry says. “The virus is in these droplets, and they don't go very far — they fall to the ground. So that's why [staying] 6 feet away from others is the most important thing that we can all do."

Where to buy shields
Shields come attached to hats or attach to glasses or headbands. You can buy them online, often for less than $20, at sites such as Gearbest, Pro-Tex and Amazon. Some manufacturers, like RealShield by Racing Optics Inc., are making face shields with UV coatings.

"For optimal protection,” Perencevich and his colleagues assert in their JAMA article, “the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield's headpiece.”

Where to buy shields

Shields come attached to hats or attach to glasses or headbands. You can buy them online, often for less than $20, at sites such as Gearbest, Pro-Tex and Amazon. Some manufacturers, like RealShield by Racing Optics Inc., are making face shields with UV coatings.

"For optimal protection,” Perencevich and his colleagues assert in their JAMA article, “the shield should extend below the chin anteriorly, to the ears laterally, and there should be no exposed gap between the forehead and the shield's headpiece.”

 St. John Parish_banner
St. John Parish Updates:
St. John Parish Andouille Festival Canceled
Due to COVID-19
Jaclyn Hotard - St. John Parish President
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH (7/13/2020) - St. John the Baptist Parish – Due to COVID-19, the Andouille Festival scheduled for October 16-18, 2020 will be canceled. The decision follows similar cancelations of festivals state-wide.

“We are disappointed that we will not be able to have our festival this year; however, the health and wellbeing of our entire community continues to be our highest priority,” said Parish President Hotard. "We look forward to bringing our community back together at the Andouille Festival in 2021.”

For more information about St. John Parish, visit Residents can also receive regular updates by following the Parish on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by tuning in to the government access channel.
St. John Parish President Hotard and Councilmembers
St. John Parish Government Complex Re-Opening

Thursday, July 2, 2020
St, John the Baptist Parish - The St. John Parish Government Complex will re-open to the public effective Monday, July 6, 2020 at 8 a.m. The following will be in place: 

  • All persons entering the Government Complex will be required to have their temperature taken by Ochsner Health staff.
  • All persons entering the Government Complex will be required to wear a facial mask or covering.

To help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, the Parish encourages the public to use electronic or other non-contact means of conducting Parish business whenever possible, such as utilizing the Dropbox at the entrance the Government Complex and online services for water bill payments and scheduling an appointment with the appropriate department.
All residents and businesses are encouraged to continue to follow the Phase Two reopening guidance and Coronavirus precautions from the Governor’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Health, the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the CDC. Stay tuned to, St. John the Baptist Parish on social media and the Government Access Channel (15/99) for updates. 

Additional Information can be found by dialing 211 or at:

  • St. John the Baptist Parish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • The Government Access Channel (15/99.)

History of St. John the Baptist Parish

St. John the Baptist Parish was the second permanent settlement in Louisiana and established in the early 1720's by a group of Germans, hence becoming known as "La Cote des Allemands" or "The German Coast". Led by Karl Frederic D'Arensbourg, a settlement was created on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the area now known as Lucy which was originally named Karistein. Some families also began farming land on the east bank, in what is now Garyville and Reserve.

D'Arensbourg's grandson, Jacques Villere , was born at Lucy and became the second governor of the state of Louisiana. He was the first Creole (Louisiana born) person of pure European descent to hold that office.

The area remained under the French regime until 1768, when France delivered Louisiana to the Spanish. At this time the Acadians or "Cajuns" began arriving in South Louisiana after being exiled from Nova Scotia. The first Acadian settlement was established at what is now called Wallace. The French and German cultures mixed, with French becoming the dominant language. German names were given French translations. Heidel became Haydel, Ruber became Oubre, Treagor - Tregre and so on...
St. John the Baptist Parish | 985-652-9569
1811 West Airline Hwy
LaPlace, LA 70068
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