COLUMN: Coronavirus is rising, and Guillory is doing less than nothing to stop it

From LCG's official Facebook page on Veteran's Day, Nov. 11 LCG

Make no mistake, the pandemic is surging again in Lafayette, with more cases in the parish reported in the last week than the previous three weeks combined, and hospitalizations in the region doubling since Oct. 31. Outbreaks are so widespread in two high schools that they’ve had to go back to full-time virtual learning, which is going to have a serious impact on the economic and mental health of working parents, not to mention the students themselves. Yet Mayor-President Josh Guillory is doing less than nothing about it.

Two months ago Guillory ordered Lafayette’s fire chief to stop enforcing the governor’s statewide coronavirus safety mandates. Since then a number of bars have essentially resumed normal operations, leading to scenes like this at the Grouse Room a couple of weeks ago:

L.A. Roxx performs at Grouse Room for Halloween Party on Oct. 31. Photo from L.A. Roxx Facebook page

That’s dozens if not hundreds of people indoors in close proximity largely not wearing masks, literally the worst thing anyone could be doing right now if the goal is to slow the spread of this disease. Yet Guillory is sitting idly by, ignoring the governor’s orders and allowing this to happen.

In fact, instead of doing the bare minimum and enforcing existing guidelines, he’s blaming the medical community.

“We need some really, really strong assurances from the medical community that you guys have changed your behaviors and have done something to help mitigate this, because we can’t shut our economy down,” he said in a conference call with parish leaders and the region’s top medical official last week. To spare you the horror of not being able to pile into the Grouse Room, his only solution is to turn city rec centers into field hospitals.

It’s obvious, but still important to point out, that members of the medical community are already doing a lot. They’ve survived an initial surge that stretched their resources to the limit in the spring. They’ve balanced caring for a steady stream of coronavirus patients since then, in addition to managing all of Lafayette’s regular healthcare needs. And now they’re having to gear up to handle another potential surge at a time when nurses and doctors are burnt out and new staff is hard to find.

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So at a time when our healthcare system is vulnerable and in need of our support, Guillory’s demanding accountability from them, saying they need to do more.

Meanwhile, he’s failing to set an example for the public in following even the most basic of safety precautions. Check out these images posted by Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Facebook page and his campaign page from just the last few weeks:

Don’t forget, it was just a few weeks ago that one of his key staff members got infected, but Guillory and others in his office refused to quarantine, yet another basic safety measure he’s choosing to blatantly ignore.

Quite simply, he is setting a poor example through his own behaviors while admonishing our hard-working medical community for not doing more to prepare for the surge that his failures are making worse.

Guillory’s inability to lead by example and utilize every tool at his disposal to fight this virus is putting us all at risk of losing both our lives and our livelihoods. No one wants to shut down our economy again. But the odds of us having to do so go up each and every day that Guillory fails to lead our community the way it deserves to be led.

It’s time for Guillory to stop ducking the hard questions and start taking accountability for his own actions and inaction. The only way to protect our economy is to fight this disease with everything we’ve got. And Lafayette needs the mayor-president to step up and do just that.