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VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA

Edwards seeks federal disaster declaration for Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's governor says conversations about easing restrictions that have hammered the national economy are too soon for his state. Gov. John Bel Edwards is asking the White House to declare a major disaster in his state to free up more direct federal aid to cope with the surging coronavirus outbreak. Edwards is warning that the New Orleans area could run out of hospital beds by April 4. The Democratic governor's request to President Donald Trump comes as the number of people in Louisiana confirmed to have COVID-19 surged to nearly 1,400 on Tuesday. The state health department says 46 Louisiana residents have died.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODING

Officials: As Mississippi River drops, floods still a threat

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the Mississippi River in New Orleans continues to drop there is still a threat of flooding this spring across a third of the country. The Times-Picayune reports the river dropped below 15 feet last week in the city’s uptown neighborhood at the Carrollton gauge. The Army Corps of Engineers has changed rules that prohibit construction work on or near the river. It has also dropped river inspections from at least once a day to twice weekly. Federal forecasters say an increase in rainfall across areas north of Louisiana will pose a threat of high river conditions through May. Official say highly saturated soil in areas where rainfall might occur will also increase the chances of flooding.

DEEP SOUTH-WEATHER

90-degree temperatures possible across Deep South this week

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A scorching wave of summer-like heat could be in store for parts of the Deep South this week. The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures Thursday and Friday could approach or even exceed 90 degrees in areas of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. In Georgia, forecasters say Valdosta and Alma could see highs of 91. Thermometers in Evergreen, Alabama, could hit 90 degrees right before the weekend. Jackson, Mississippi, is forecast to reach 89 degrees, with highs of 88 degrees possible in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

DEPUTIES AMBUSHED

Louisiana deputies ambushed on call; suspect kills self

SLIDELL, La. (AP) — A call for help in suburban New Orleans has led to an ambush of sheriff's deputies and a suspect's suicide. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office said it happened shortly after 7:15 p.m. Monday as deputies were dispatched to a home in Slidell involving a domestic violence incident. The sheriff's office said as deputies spoke to one of the people outside the house, a second person, armed with a gun, came around the side of the house and began firing at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the suspect fled back to the side of the home. Authorities say that's where deputies found him dead, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,.

TANGIPAHOA FLOOD LAWSUIT

Louisiana flood victims owed over $300 million sue state

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A group of Louisiana flood victims who have been owed over $300 million for the past decade have filed a lawsuit against the state for failure to pay. The Advocate reports Tangipahoa Parish home and small business owners who flooded in 1983 filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge on Thursday. The latest lawsuit comes over a decade after residents won a case which found the construction of a local highway blocked drainage of the Tangipahoa River. The court ruled the state failed to conduct needed studies on the river, and ordered Louisiana to pay millions in damages plus other costs and interest.

AP-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-FAITH-LOOPHOLES

States differ on exempting worship from coronavirus closures

NEW YORK (AP) — Multiple governors are ordering curbs on large gatherings and imploring residents to stay home in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but at least a half-dozen states have exempted some level of religious activity. The carveouts for faith practices come as a few houses of worship across the nation continue to hold services in person, despite federal public health guidance to avoid gatherings larger than 10 people and decisions by most religious leaders to shift services online. The pandemic has heightened political tensions, but states including religious exceptions in their orders designed to combat the pandemic are led by governors in both parties.

FATAL DEPUTY SHOOTING

Prosecutors won't charge Louisiana deputy in motel shooting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana prosecutors will not bring charges against a sheriff's deputy who fatally shot a man in the back of the neck at a motel last summer. The Advocate reports Assistant Attorney General Grant Lloyd Willis wrote in a letter that an investigation concluded the shooting of 38-year-old Josef Richardson was justified because deputies said he reached for his waistband while one of them tried to handcuff him. West Baton Rouge Parish deputies were serving a “no knock” warrant at a Port Allen motel when Richardson was killed last July. Deputy Vance Matranga Jr. was placed on paid leave after the shooting. He returned to work in September, mainly performing administrative duties

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA

Edwards calls on Louisiana to follow 'stay at home' order

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling on Louisiana residents to comply with his “stay at home” order. The governor's comments in a statewide TV address Monday night came as the number of state residents confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus spiked to nearly 1,200 people. The state health department says at least 34 residents have died from the COVID-19 disease. Edwards ordered his state's 4.6 million residents to voluntarily stay at home unless they need to carry out essential tasks such as getting food or medicine. First responders and workers in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors' offices and other critical operations are exempt from the directive. Edwards says Louisiana has the third-highest per-capita rate of confirmed infection.