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Survey highlights initial impact of COVID-19 on Acadiana businesses

The gist: Acadiana’s businesses already feel widespread economic pain, according to a survey conducted by a coalition of local economic development and community organizations, including LEDA, One Acadiana and more. Of roughly 1,000 local businesses surveyed between March 19 and March 25, 91% expected revenue to decline. 

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91% of respondents expect revenue to be down. 72% of all respondents say they expect revenue to be down significantly.

The majority of respondents have already seen their businesses hurt, with order cancellations and decreased demand. As a result, a majority of respondents are watching spending closely and adjusting work schedules.

35% have already reduced staff or expect to. Another 32.7% are unsure if they’ll need to do that. An average of 64% have already reduced operational hours, shifts, work days, and/or wages, with that number increasing to 88% for those businesses who responded on the last day the survey was live.

More than 20% said they couldn’t make it a month given current economic conditions. Some couldn’t make it another week. Nearly half of businesses were unsure how long they could hold out. Here’s a breakdown based on how much longer they felt they could stay open given current conditions:

  • 7% one week
  • 22.2% one month
  • 8.8% six months
  • 2.3% other
  • 45.1% unsure how long
  • 14.5% other 

Respondents encompassed a variety of types, industries, and sizes of businesses, with more than half having 1-10 employees, more than 70% being located in Lafayette Parish.

The federal stimulus could help local businesses navigate these choppy waters. This survey was conducted before the federal stimulus package was passed, part of which is designed to keep small businesses afloat for a couple of months. Some of the responses to this survey referenced their hope this would keep them alive. The forgivable loans available to small businesses to retain staff are starting to take applications today. 

This coalition plans on conducting another survey in mid-April to track the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Full results of this first survey can be seen here.

Link: Banks urge patience as PPP rollout gets off to a rocky start

The ambitious $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program passed by Congress one week ago to help small businesses weather the coronavirus crisis rolls out this morning amid confusion and mixed signals.

Updated federal guidelines for the program were not issued until late Thursday night in a 31-page “interim final rules” document, just hours before the PPP was supposed to begin accepting applications, and most banks are still not ready.

Source: Banks urge patience as PPP rollout gets off to a rocky start

Link: Ochsner Health secures 5-minute coronavirus test that could go to ERs, labor units 

Ochsner Health System officials will soon begin using rapid COVID-19 tests in their emergency rooms and other areas to screen out patients who have the disease, they said Thursday.

The tests by Abbott Laboratories were cleared by the Food and Drug Administration last week and were shipped to hospitals beginning Wednesday. Ochsner has received some of the tests kits as of Thursday. The 5-minute test joins another 45-minute test in Ochsner’s stockpile and the same-day tests it has had for weeks.

Source: Ochsner Health secures 5-minute coronavirus test that could go to ERs, labor units | Coronavirus | nola.com

Link: Coronavirus update: Half of ventilators, 81% of ICU beds are already in use in Acadiana | Coronavirus | theadvocate.com

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in Acadiana, state health officials on Thursday released new data showing in the seven-parish region that includes Lafayette, more than half the ventilators are in use and 81% of hospital intensive care unit beds are in use.

The New Orleans area is about two weeks ahead of Acadiana in the progression of the coronavirus pandemic, this region’s top public health official said Monday. If the number of cases and number of hospital admissions continue to grow, she said, in a few weeks Acadiana’s health care system could be “severely impacted.”

Source: Coronavirus update: Half of ventilators, 81% of ICU beds are already in use in Acadiana | Coronavirus | theadvocate.com

1A launches economic recovery toolkit

One Acadiana today announced the launch of a new Economic Recovery Toolkit for businesses facing economic hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Surviving coronavirus with grace and gravy

While coronavirus wreaks havoc on the restaurant industry, Acadiana’s iconic plate lunch houses persevere as tight-knit family businesses with strong neighborhood ties.

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Lafayette residents aren’t facing evictions, but what happens when the bills and rent come due after coronavirus goes away?

The gist: Compassionate policies penned by government officials, utilities and other service providers will keep the lights on and people in their homes so long as social distancing is the law of the land. But people out of work, particularly those already on the economic bubble, are working to make their last paychecks count. While they track upticks in financial anxiety and insecurity, community advocates worry about the other foot dropping when the pandemic is over and compassion measures are lifted. 

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Sheltering the unsheltered amid COVID-19

How do you stay safe at home if you don’t have a home? That’s the question Acadiana’s shelters for people experiencing homlessness are struggling with right now. Lacking adequate healthcare, those who are unsheltered are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Local shelters are already at capacity, and more people are becoming homeless each day. It’s a public health problem, according to advocates. 

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State-led program offers COVID-19 small biz help

Gov. John Bel Edwards today announced a new loan guarantee program offering loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To be eligible, businesses must have fewer than 100 employees.

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LGH, Ochsner take next step in merger

The Boards of Trustees of Lafayette General Health and New Orleans-based Ochsner Health have approved and signed a definitive agreement for LGH to merge with Ochsner. The systems announced the merger in September.

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Health officials: It’s ‘still early’ in Lafayette’s coronavirus outbreak

The gist: Confirmed cases continue to surge in Acadiana, reaching 274 per the Louisiana Department of Health’s noon update. A second death was officially recorded in Lafayette Parish. Health officials say we’re still two weeks away from seeing the impact of social distancing in Lafayette.

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