United StatesLouisiana

Quick hits: Louisiana news briefs for Thursday, July 16

By Natee Meepian

State tax day pushed back to Friday

Louisiana residents have been given two more days to file their state taxes, which would have been due Wednesday, after officials say a network connectivity problem slowed down or made inaccessible several of the Department of Revenue’s web applications.

The original deadline to file state income taxes was May 15, but the date was pushed back to accommodate people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday’s technical issues also affected FrontlineWorkers.la.gov, where “essential” workers can apply for $250 in “hazard pay” for helping the state to function while most people were asked to stay home. The application period opened at midnight and by 7 a.m. Wednesday more than 14,000 people had applied, the revenue department says.

Louisiana Supreme Court cancels bar exam

The Louisiana State Bar Examination will not be held July 27 as planned because of safety concerns related to COVID-19, the state Supreme Court announced Wednesday.

“When the decision was made to administer this year’s version of the bar examination, the infection rate had fallen and restrictions were being lifted,” the court said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately the rate of infection has increased substantially, with each of the test sites chosen being in areas which have seen some of the highest rates of infection.”

The court said it will meet soon to determine the next steps. To protect the integrity of the examination, both the remote and in-person administrations of the July 27 examination will not be administered, their statement says.

Louisiana surpasses one million COVID-19 tests

More than one million Louisiana residents have been tested for COVID-19, which state officials consider an important milestone in the battle against the disease.

On Tuesday, federal officials said Louisiana is among the top two or three states in the nation for tests per capita.

“We are a small state and this level of testing would not be possible without federal partners, state agencies and local governments working together with our health care providers,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “While we know there are still issues related to the availability of testing supplies and some reports of test results being backlogged, I am hopeful that our continued push to test as many Louisianans as we can will result in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

As of noon Wednesday, at least 3,351 Louisiana residents had died from COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health. More than 84,000 confirmed cases have been reported, and more than 53,000 of those patients were believed to have recovered.

Foreign language teachers gain exemption from presidential visa restrictions

Foreign language teachers Louisiana recruited through either the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana or the state Department of Education will qualify for an exception to presidential proclamations established certain restrictions on employment-based visas for foreign nationals, the education department announced Wednesday.

This exception will allow 70 teachers (49 teachers of French and 21 teachers of Spanish) to travel to Louisiana for the 2020-2021 school year. The teachers will provide language instruction in immersion and early world languages programs in 16 school systems across the state, the department says.

“Louisiana has a rich heritage founded on diverse cultures,” State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said. “Our immersion programs honor that heritage, while providing our children a world of opportunities.”

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