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Ourso, Stassi urge residents to heed 'stay at home' orders

John Dupont

The escalating number of COVID-19 cases in Iberville Parish and across Louisiana adds a stronger sense of urgency to heed the “shelter at home” and “social distancing” orders issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso and Sheriff Brett Stassi.

They made their statements as the total number of coronavirus cases topped the 4,000-mark on Monday.

Ourso, in a recorded message on the Iberville Parish Council Facebook page, issued a recorded statement urging residents to fully comply with the governor’s order

Unless it’s absolutely necessary to get out for an emergency, medical procedure or medical care, or go to the pharmacy or grocery store, we must all do our part to obey the governor’s stay at home order,” he said. “The only way we’re going to stop the spread of this virus is to remain at home and limit any activities involving the general public.”

Ourso said in the message that he is prepared to issue a curfew if parish residents cannot come together in the fight against the spread of the virus.

Everyone must do their part, we’re all in this fight together and we will get through this together,” he said.

No further discussion has taken place on a possible curfew, but Stassi urged residents not to put others harm’s way by disobeying the governor’s order.

Some residents have contacted him about gatherings, although none of have been nearly the size of gatherings such as the Life Tabernacle Church services in Central or the party on an island along the Tickfaw River in Springfield.

I’ve gotten a few calls from worried citizens, and I’ve sent out deputies to make sure people keep a small group,” Stassi said. “We had someone trying to get me to shut down birthday parties for little kids with their grandparents, but the majority of people are listening.”

Stassi believes Gov. Edwards is making the right move with the plan to extend the “shelter in place” mandate, which he will announce Friday.

I think the worst way we can mess this up is to reopen everything too quickly,” he said. “We didn’t bring this virus here, but we have to do everything we can to contain it.”

He also urged his employees and residents throughout the parish not to risk exposing others to the virus.

If you feel bad -- and this is not just for my employees, but for everyone in Iberville – don’t put your family in jeopardy,” he said. “Quarantine yourself and don’t put others at risk.”

In the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, the concern extends beyond the residents that deputies serve, Stassi said.

It also extends to the deputies themselves.

I definitely worry about having to put my people in harm’s way,” he said. “We’re doing all we can to answer calls and to handle as many of them over the phone – but if we have to go, we make sure our people have the right equipment they need.”

The concerns also extend to the inmates in the Iberville Parish Jail.

No cases have been reported at the detention facility, but precautions continue, Stassi said.