SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced on Thursday, Nov. 19, that the state is now in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Edwards has said all along that imposing new restrictions is a last resort to fight off the deadly virus yet again.
It has already been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs in Louisiana in 2020, amidst the slow reopening of the state’s economy.
So the possibility of reverting back to Phase II is a big blow to business owners, some of whom hoped the worst was behind us. Now they could have to find a way to survive a shutdown yet again.
With this in mind, we paid a visit to three local business owners who we have followed through this pandemic.
Just two months ago, back in September, Tim Huck - along with thousands of local business owners - anxiously awaited the end of Phase II and start of Phase III in reopening Louisiana’s economy.
As the owner of the Sandbar nightclub in downtown Shreveport and Notini’s Restaurant in Bossier City, he barely made it through the months-long financial hardship.
“It had me really scared. We were close to, you know, just calling the landlord and just saying, ‘I’m done. I cant do it anymore. Turn in the keys,” said Huck.
So, when Huck hears about a potential return to Phase II, it’s easy to understand his reaction.
“First thing I think is, we’re not going to come out of it,” he said, and those fears echo throughout the area.
At Maxwell’s Market on Line Avenue, their troubles have come in waves; first, a meat shortage in April, followed by the mask mandate in July and now there are growing fears of having to fall back to Phase II.
Now back to a new normal of sorts, owner Ross Barclay told us during our visit Thursday afternoon that regardless of what reopening phase we find ourselves in after the holidays, right now his focus is squarely on the holiday season itself, which he describes as more critical than ever.
“Oh yeah. Every small business on earth counts on a good holiday. That’s really what makes us to be able to stay open for the rest of the year,” said Barclay.
Our third and final stop of the day took us back to Shaver’s Crawfish & Catering on Youree Drive in Shreveport. It is another example of a business forced to adapt very quickly to survive, especially when the bottom fell out of the crawfish market back in April.
Owner Chuck Sartori recalls his first reaction to hearing the possibility of returning to Phase II, as he began with a grin and laugh.
“It scares me to death! You know, here we are, no matter what we’re still way off on revenue.”
When it comes to businesses that survive tough times you sometimes hear a play on words with Charles Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest,’ at least financially.
When the pandemic arrived in Shreveport, and the economy was shut down, Sartori explains they had to adapt quickly or potentially suffer the same fate as all-too-many businesses at the time, most of which he says ultimately perished.
“It’s tough. You know. You look around town and look at the people that hadn’t made it the first session. And yeah, it’s going to be devastating,” said Sartori.
Back at the Sandbar before its opening, Huck said he’s seen the financial hardships and the consequences of losing a business all-too-often.
“I’ve seen it in the worst possible case scenario, three times now since COVID; that people just couldn’t mentally handle what they were going through,” said Huck.
Huck says one of the people they lost this way was an extended family member.
“And then I’ve seen quite a few that have turned to substances. Some that have gone to doctors and some that have gone other ways,” he said.
The CDC is closely monitoring this aspect of the COVID crisis, as well.
They say that during late June, for example, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use, and 11 percent seriously considered suicide.