Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate on National Football League COVID-19 rule violations by the New Orleans Saints:
It took weeks as New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the New Orleans Saints organizations looked at the same coronavirus data and came to different conclusions about fans returning to the Superdome. Finally, after a hollow threat to move home games to Baton Rouge and some improvement with COVID-19 numbers, the mayor agreed to allow the professional football team to welcome fans — with careful, consistent and specific safety precautions.
Starting with the Carolina Panthers game, the Saints were permitted to have 3,000 at home games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome under a safety plan the Saints described as a “phased and deliberate” approach. The idea was that safety precautions would be observed and the city would allow the Saints to increase the number of fans for games with the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons (6,000 each) and then 15,000 for the Dec. 20 Kansas City Chiefs and the Dec. 25 Minnesota Vikings games. That’s far from the 70,000-plus crowds the players are used to seeing and hearing.
The Saints required fans to wear masks as a safety measure. Nearly all fans cooperated. The Saints and other NFL players have battled week after week. There have been players testing positive and a number of players couldn’t play because they were close to someone who tested positive. On-field and post-game celebrations continued. The problem is that coaches, players and staff are supposed to mask up when they’re not on the field. That includes time in the locker room.
According to an ESPN report, the Saints have been fined $500,000 and a seventh-round draft pick has been lost because some Saints players carried on in the locker room without masks. Subsequently, The Associated Press reported that the Saints organization is being given heftier punishment as a repeat team offender. After the Las Vegas Raiders game in October, head coach Sean Payton was fined $150,000 and the team was fined $250,000 because Payton did not properly wear his face covering during the game. Now the team is getting more league attention because players posted celebrations on social media after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The New Orleans Saints are responsible for the entire organization. The owner. The team leadership. Payton and other coaches. Each staff person. Each player. It is unacceptable to disobey league rules designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It has been reported that the team plans to appeal. That’s reasonable. But where there is clarity that team members violated league rules, the organization should confess, accept the punishment and finish the season with no more violations.
The Advocate on the end of the 2020 hurricane season:
Any other year, we’d be winding down the year, heading into Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa and the new year with hurricane season behind us.
But this is 2020.
Since the stormy season started June 1, we had 30 storms in the Atlantic Ocean, and many of them were more dangerous named storms. The traditional hurricane season is scheduled to end today. We’re hoping it’s not just a date on the calendar.
As we hit 20 named hurricanes, we worried that we might break our 2005 record of 28 named storms — and we did. We registered 30 named storms, working our way through the 26 letters of the alphabet and starting down the Greek alphabet list. We in southern Louisiana were in the stormy “cone of uncertainty” more than a few times, and that wasn’t comfortable. Though we’re battle-tested hurricane watchers, it was troubling.
Our stormy historic season started in early summer when Tropical Storm Cristobal hit southeastern Louisiana on June 7. We should have known something was not right when the next storm of significance didn’t come until August 24 when Tropical Storm Marco hit. The wait wasn’t a good one because, just three days later, we got hit by Hurricane Laura. That hurricane was really bad. Striking southwestern Louisiana on August 27, Laura was the 10th strongest hurricane to hit land based on wind speed. It killed more than 40 people in the United States and left about $14 billion in damages across Louisiana and into southeastern Texas. Since we’ve had so many August hurricanes, we falsely thought this might be the worst of it.
Hurricane Delta knocked, on Oct. 9. Delta had the nerve to plow Louisiana land just a few miles from Laura’s path. An area that suffered millions in damages had to suffer more. More than 3,000 were displaced, put up at several New Orleans hotels and elsewhere in the state.
Fortunately, there are recent reports showing tropical storms or hurricanes heading our way as we look toward the end of this busy hurricane season on Nov. 30.
As we eat some Thanksgiving leftovers and prepare to finish this strange year with what may be new traditions, we’re watching to see whether Mother Nature will surprise us with some postseason storm or hurricane action. According to the Weather Channel, “Since 1950, only one such post-season storm affected the mainland U.S., a freak early February 1952 tropical storm which brushed across the Florida Peninsula.”
According to the people who do some of the official hurricane watching, the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, 87% of minor hurricane days and 96% of major hurricane days happen in the scheduled season. But there are a few hurricanes that happen “out of season,” sometimes, gulp, in December.
It’s The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore’s job to go to the places where big storms are anticipated so he can be positioned to report from the scene. We’re hoping he won’t have to interrupt his socially distanced Thanksgiving celebration to travel to Louisiana or anywhere close. We wish Cantore well, but we’ve had enough.
The Houma Courier and The Daily Comet on spending money locally during the holiday season:
This Christmas, Houma-Thibodaux residents fortunate enough to exchange gifts can stretch their generosity beyond those who receive the presents.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses across the nation hard, and Terrebonne and Lafourche are no exception. State restrictions aimed at stemming the deadly virus’s spread have reduced revenue, prompting many small businesses to lay off workers or even close for good. And that comes atop the challenge small businesses face competing against giant online retailers and big box stores.
All of us can help by purchasing Christmas gifts from a local shop, restaurant, fisherman or other small businesses. One place to start is a listing The Courier and Daily Comet published on Friday’s front page under the headline “10 local Christmas gifts anyone on your list will love.” You’ll find the list at houmatoday.com and dailycomet.com, and links to it are posted on our Facebook pages.
Among the suggestions are gift cards from local restaurants, Houma-made craft beer and whiskey, fresh or frozen seafood direct from local fishermen, local museum and health club memberships, local fishing lures and plenty more.
Look around and you’ll find lots of other local gift ideas that will delight Houma-Thibodaux natives and anyone on your gift list elsewhere in the state, nation or world. And buying local is easier than ever, as many businesses now offer their wares online for pickup or shipping anywhere.
“These small-business restaurant and retail owners are the backbone of every community in Louisiana,” Stephen Waguespack, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, wrote in a March column as the pandemic took hold. “It’s our turn to have their back after they have had our back time and time again over the years.”
Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser delivers a similar message in a column published Friday in both local newspapers and on their websites.
“Now, more than at any other point in our state’s existence, has it been so important to support our neighbors and friends that make up our small business community throughout Louisiana,” Nungesser wrote. “So what can you do to help? I, myself, have made a commitment that instead of rising in the early hours for that one can’t miss black Friday special, my family would spend every bit of our holiday budget with Louisiana small businesses.”
Let’s follow his lead.