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VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA

Edwards: K-12 schools likely to stay closed for school year

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’s likely to keep Louisiana’s K-12 public schools shuttered for the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus. Edwards’ school closure order remains in place through the end of April. Louisiana’s top education board, school superintendents and school boards have sent requests to the Democratic governor. They've asked him to extend the closures through the end of the school year, which runs until the final weeks of May. Edwards says “there's a really good chance” he'll grant their request. The coronavirus Thursday claimed a state lawmaker among its victims, Republican Rep. Reggie Bagala of Lafourche Parish.

BC-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-EASTER-SERVICES

Some churches confront virus restrictions on Easter services

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — At the holiest time of year for Christians, churches are wrestling with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, that has set up showdowns between pastors and local officials over restrictions that forbid large gatherings. Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options to observe Good Friday and Easter services on TVs, phones and computers. Others are sending worshippers to drive-in movie theaters for services. Governors in several states have deemed church an “essential service,” allowing Easter worship to proceed even as public health officials warn that large gatherings could be a major setback amid a pandemic that has killed more than 14,000 people in the U.S.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LIVES LOST-LOUISIANA

Lives Lost: A Louisiana grandmother 'took care of everyone'

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mary Louise Brown Morgan, a “God-fearing woman” who made a “mean gumbo and red beans,” died March 27 in Houma, Louisiana, after contracting the coronavirus. She was the first person in Terrebonne Parish to die of COVID-19, in a state where the pandemic is taking a heavy toll. Morgan was born in New Orleans on Jan. 5, 1942, but was a lifelong resident of the small town of Gray, Louisiana. Her niece Penny Mikkel said her aunt had a “beautiful spirit." Family members described how she lovingly tended her beautiful garden full of trees and rosebushes and worked out three times a week at her local gym.

BC-VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA'S HOPE

Louisiana responds to coronavirus with rare bipartisanship

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana is experiencing a rare moment of bipartisanship in the time of the coronavirus, after years of bitter political disputes. The unusual cooperation between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and his traditional Republican rivals appears to be having a positive effect. Officials are sounding a note of cautious hope that they may have flattened the curve of virus cases in the state. The growth in the number of people requiring hospitalization has slowed, and the number of patients requiring ventilators to do their breathing for them has declined.

STOLEN RESPIRATOR MASKS

Masks returned to makeshift hospital after official's arrest

NEWS ORLEANS (AP) — Authorities in Louisiana said 80 respirator masks have been returned to a makeshift hospital for recovering coronavirus patients in New Orleans after being stolen by a high-ranking official. The convention center’s director of public safety was arrested over the weekend and charged with one count of malfeasance in office. State Police said Vernon Giscombe admitted to asking two employees to bring him boxes filled with N95 masks. The masks were for medical workers staffing the 1,000-bed hospital built inside the center. Troopers recovered the 80 masks at Giscombe’s home and they were later returned. It’s unclear whether Giscombe had an attorney.

AP-US-CLERGY-ABUSE-NEW-ORLEANS-SAINTS

Official: Saints emails on clergy crisis should stay secret

A court official is recommending to keep secret hundreds of emails detailing the New Orleans Saints’ efforts to conduct damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese amid its clergy sexual abuse crisis. Retired Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson's non-binding recommendation says the release of the 276 documents would only embarrass those who helped the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The recommendation came almost three months after The Associated Press sought the release of the emails. Attorneys for nearly two dozen men suing the church say the emails show the Saints helping the church conceal abuse. The team and archdiocese deny those claims.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CASINO WORKERS

US casino workers: Pay us through the shutdown

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Casino workers across the country are calling on the gambling industry to pay its laid-off workers their full salary and benefits for the duration of the shutdown necessitated by the coronavirus. In an online conference Thursday, casino workers and their union leaders from Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New Orleans and Mississippi called on the industry to “step up and do the right thing.” Many laid-off workers have not been able to file for unemployment, and have no income, even as bills, rent and mortgage payments come due, they said. Many casinos gave their workers two weeks’ salary upon closing; a few will pay through mid or late May.

FIRE FATAL

Man dies in Louisiana house fire

GRETNA, La. (AP) — Louisiana fire investigators say a disabled man was killed after food left unattended on a stove sparked a fire.  The state Fire Marshal's Office, in a news release Wednesday, said the fire happened Tuesday just after 6 p.m. in an apartment complex in Gretna.  The victim was a 55-year-old man who was confined to a wheelchair. Witnesses told investigators the victim’s father, who he lived with, left to go to a store and turned the burner on low before leaving instead of turning the stove off.  The Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine a cause of death.