Capital Briefing From District 22 State Rep. Gabe Firment

As I write this column the Louisiana Department of Health website indicates that Louisiana is approaching 15,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has exceeded 500 deaths attributable to the virus. However, the latest data appears to indicate that we are effectively “flattening the curve” and may be approaching the peak of the outbreak and getting to the downward arc of the curve sooner rather than later. The social distancing guidelines recommended by President Trump and state and local officials are working, but we must stay the course and do an even better job of self-compliance with the recommended social distancing measures in the coming days.

By now most of us are familiar with the recommended steps we can each take in regards to personal hygiene and social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and to ensure that our healthcare system is not completely overwhelmed by a rapid increase in the number of infected persons. There is very little I can add to this discussion except to ask that everyone simply uses common sense and practices the Golden Rule – treat others like you want to be treated. If we respect our neighbors and take common sense steps to stop needlessly endangering others, then we can get this viral outbreak behind us and emerge from this crisis stronger and more unified than ever before.

Of course, the public health issue is our primary concern at this time, but we cannot ignore the impending economic crisis looming as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Small businesses have been especially hard hit by this crisis, and the federal CARES Act recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump contains provisions for two different types of loans available to small businesses: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan(EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program(PPP).

The EIDL low interest loans are available to businesses and 501c3 organizations with less than 500 employees and is administered by the SBA directly. You may apply at SBA.gov\disaster. The PPP loans may be especially beneficial to small businesses in District 22 as they are forgivable loans administered by local banks. PPP funds can be utilized by small businesses to cover payroll costs for an 8 week period, as well as some expenses such as mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs. Please contact your local lender for additional information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program.

Our office has been getting numerous calls from workers who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis and who are having a difficult time filing an unemployment insurance claim with the Louisiana Workforce Commission. This is due to the sheer volume of claims being filed, and we have been assured that LWC is in the process of adding staff and upgrading their computer and phone systems to handle the increased claim volume. I recommend filing a claim on the Louisiana Workforce Commission website at laworks.net rather than calling the LWC office.

If you have trouble applying for any of these programs, or if you simply have questions please contact my District Office at (318)765-9606 and check out my Facebook page @GabeFirment22 for regular updates. Stay Safe and God Bless.


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