Residents across Iberville Parish waited in long car lines Saturday to receive an item that will soon become a mandatory item for public interaction throughout the state.
Local officials throughout the parish distributed cloth face masks to residents free of charge as part of a move further safeguard residents against the spread of coronavirus.
Motorists waited at 16 sites provided the masks which the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness doled out to parishes across the state. Hanesbrand, Inc., the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based manufacturer of casualwear and undergarments, provided the masks.
If any official wondered if residents would take advantage of the giveaway, those doubts disappeared quickly – as did the free facial wear.
Approximately 10 cars waited along Desobry Street toward the entrance for the giveaway, which lasted from 9 until 11 a.m. But the line stretched along the three other streets on the block – Ferdinand, Calvin and Fort.
Cars continued to make their way through the lines as city officials doled out the masks to motorists.
“I don’t know if we’ll make it until 11 o’clock,” one official said.
Demand was strong throughout the parish. In Plaquemine, approximately 1,800 pulled through the driveway alongside the COPAC Gymnasium.
“We gave out the very last mask at exactly 11, just as we closed,” Mayor Edwin “Ed” Reeves said.
The strong turnout sent a message about the public reaction to the pandemic.
“Most residents are adhering to warnings from the Center for Disease Control, as well as listening to their mayors and our Parish President (J. Mitchell Ourso) on the Stay at Home order and wearing masks in public … this entire event speaks volumes about the concern here,” said Plaquemine Fire Chief Darren Ramirez, who also serves as chief investigative officer for Iberville Parish Coroner Dr. James Grace.
Ramirez helped organize the event and oversaw distribution to all areas across the parish.
Other pickup sites included the American Legion home, the Plaquemine Lions Club, the C.M. “Mike” Zito Multipurpose Center, Bayou Goula Fire Department, White Castle Town Hall, the White Castle Fire Department on the La. 404/Richland Road intersection, the Bayou Pigeon/Bayou Sorrrel Fire Department on Richland Road and both locations of the Bayou Blue Fire Station. Additional locations included the town halls from Grosse Tete, Rosedale and Maringouin, as well as the St. Gabriel City Hall and its satellite fire station.