COVID-19 is the most pressing issue facing Iberia Parish at present.

Unfortunately, unless we as a collective group, and I mean the citizens of Iberia Parish, understand that getting vaccinated and wearing masks is the only way out of this terrible situation, the future is going to include a continued devastating impact on our lives from COVID-19.

The following supports my statement:

Louisiana has the highest case growth in the United States with a 14-day increase of 238 percent.

Earlier this year we were doing great — mask wearing worked. In April of 2021 our percent positivity was 9.3 percent by June of this year we were down to 2.3 percent. We relaxed all precautionary measures, and the Delta Variant appeared and as of July 28, 2021 we are at a percent positivity of 15.9 percent. This is a direct result of a lack of heard immunity only achieved by having a majority of our population vaccinated otherwise the virus simply mutates and grows stronger.

Our Hospitals are once again being inundated, and this is putting stress on the entire system.

This is a very dangerous virus. It not only can cause death, but has long lasting affects, many that are debilitating.

The severity of illness, and lasting affects can all be either decreased or avoided completely, by getting vaccinated.

92.7 percent of the COVID-19 cases reported last week were among Not Fully Vaccinated people.

90 percent of the 1,008 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Louisiana are Not Fully Vaccinated

91 percent of the COVID-19 Deaths reported last week were among NOT FULLY VACCINATED people.

We have an opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes for ourselves and our families, related to a virus that is for the most part avoidable.

Please speak to your loved ones about getting vaccinated, speak to your healthcare provider, voice your concerns, ask questions, and get answers from professionals. Not from social media or your friends.

96 percent of physicians in the US have been vaccinated that speaks volumes about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. It would seem highly unlikely that if the vaccine was as dangerous as some would have you believe that 96 percent of doctors in this country would have taken it.

I urge you to practice safe distancing when possible, when not possible please choose to wear a mask, and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Go to OPH4.timetap.com or call 337-262-5311 to schedule an appointment at the Health Unit. Its free!

There are also multiple pharmacies and some physicians’ offices offering the vaccine.

It’s available and easily accessible so please help us to rid our country of this terrible virus.

Work continues on the Acadiana Regional Access Road. Although we have had weather related delays, the contractor continues to make progress on the construction of the roadway.

We recently attended a meeting involving multiple utility companies, the engineering firm and contractor working on the project. The meeting was very positive with all parties collaborating on the current plan, and best practices related to each representative’s needs, and the timing of work to be performed by each in order to complete the project as efficiently as possible.

A progress report has been presented to the Iberia Parish Council. A video of the progress was shown during a council meeting, and has been posted on the Iberia Parish Website. I suggest that you visit the site www.iberiaparishgovernment.com and click on the facebook link, and click on videos and the report will be found there.

We will continue to post updates as the project continues.

I am pleased to announce that we have executed the construction contract for the Peebles Coulee Flood Water Control Structure Project.

This project is the first of many of its kind which will help to reduce nuisance flooding in areas of Iberia Parish that are subject to tidal influence. They are being placed within the Coastal Protection And Restoration Authority (CPRA) State Master Plan alignment. Projects of this type are currently being funded through GOMESA funds the parish receives annually.

CPRA has committed to help with the installation of future projects and has requested the state pass budgeted amounts of $5,000,000 for the next two years specifically for these projects in Iberia Parish.

We will continue to work with CPRA and other organizations to help reduce flooding within Iberia Parish.

I received information from the Louisiana Office of Broadband and Connectivity which could benefit many of the citizens of Iberia Parish gain access to broadband.

The program is called The Emergency Broadband Benefit which is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.

It is a first come first serve program.

Ways to apply:

1. Contact your preferred participating provider directly.

2. Use the Online Application at Getemergencybroadband.org

3. By mail

For more information call 833-511-0311 or visit fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit

We will post more information on the parish website as it becomes available.

M. LARRY RICHARD is the Iberia Parish President.

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