Baton Rouge -Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump requesting that the extension of the Title 32 authorization for the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) be reconsidered to cover 100 percent funding through December 31, 2020. There are 1,100 members of LANG who have been instrumental in helping the state respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Pres. Trump granted the extension earlier this week, but as it stands now Louisiana is required to pay 25 percent of the cost to continue utilizing LANG in the fight against the coronavirus, which amounts to $2.5 million a month. If the situation remains consistent, it would cost the state more than $10 million to keep LANG active.
In the letter Gov. Edwards writes:
The State of Louisiana remains at a critical phase of its efforts against the virus, and the support of the National Guard remains essential. As of the time of this letter, Louisiana continues in an extended Phase 2 status due to the recent spike of COVID-19 positive cases statewide which is reflected in Louisiana’s ranking of number 1 in cases per capita. This Phase 2 extension has prevented food banks across the state from accessing their normal pool of volunteers, making the National Guard’s ability to support food bank operations an important public service, particularly to underserviced populations. Additionally, two areas within Louisiana were identified as “hot spots” by DHHS allowing Louisiana to administer an additional 120,000 tests in these two areas.
Understanding that Florida and Texas were extended with 100 percent funding for Title 32, the Louisiana Department of Health provided critical data and comparisons to highlight the tenuous nature of what Louisiana is facing with this pandemic which are enclosed with this request. The public health emergency in Louisiana is significantly greater than that of Florida or Texas. Utilizing data available from each state health department, cumulative COVID-19 case incidence and the cumulative COVID-19 death rate are higher in Louisiana than Florida and Texas, with Louisiana’s death rate due to COVID-19 being higher than Florida and Texas combined. The most recent state-specific data from CDC on MIS-C is available in case count ranges. According to CDC, Louisiana has a higher number of MIS-C cases than both Florida and Texas.
Click here to read the letter.