Gov. Edwards: Louisiana Steps Back to Phase 2 as COVID Cases and Hospitalizations Rise

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Nov. 24 that the aggressive third surge of COVID-19 across all regions of Louisiana has made it necessary to impose tighter mitigation measures and step back to Phase 2 in order to protect public health.

The Governor’s updated Phase 2 proclamation, which is slightly modified from the summer, takes effect on Wednesday, November 25. It calls for reducing occupancy at some businesses, decreasing gathering sizes, limiting indoor consumption at many bars and urges everyone in Louisiana to avoid gatherings with people outside of their everyday households.

Cases are increasing, hospitalizations have climbed back up to more than 1,000, the highest level since August, and to date, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 6,300 Louisianans. According to the latest report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Louisiana had 474 new cases per 100,000 people last week, which is higher than the national average for states, which is 356 per 100,000 people.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since mid-July, will continue. In addition, Gov. Edwards encourages any business that can allow its employees to work remotely to do so. He has directed all state agencies to do the same.

“There is not a single region of our state that is not seeing increases in new cases, hospitalizations and growing positivity of COVID tests, and I am incredibly concerned by Louisiana’s trajectory and our ability to continue to deliver health care to our people if our hospitals are overrun with sick patients,” Gov. Edwards said. “The data clearly tells us that we have lost all of the gains we had made and that our current mitigation efforts must be increased in order to adequately slow the spread. Now is the time to make changes, and stepping back to guidelines that closely resemble our Phase 2 restrictions is a tough but necessary step to take in order to protect the public.

“It is absolutely vital that Louisianans take this third surge of COVID seriously. While there is hopeful news about the development of an effective vaccine, the reality is that we are several months away from being able to widely vaccinate the general population in our state. This virus is with us and we must continue all of the mitigation measures including wearing a mask and social distancing in order to stay safe. All of us working together can slow the spread of COVID and flatten the curve – indeed, we already have twice. We now have more than 1,000 patients in the hospital with COVID, wiping out months of progress and leaving our hospitals in a perilous place.”


Gov. Edwards’ updated order will go into effect on Wednesday, November 25 and will run for four weeks. The Governor intends to keep these restrictions in place at least through the end of the year.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate remains in place. Major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include the below:

All Louisianans are encouraged to avoid gatherings of individuals not part of their households.

All businesses, private and public sectors, are encouraged to use remote work where they can.

All restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity. Restaurants should move as much dining outdoors as they can. Social distancing is required.

For bars in parishes above 5% positivity, bars are closed to indoor sales and consumption but open for outdoor consumption at tables only and at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery will still be available.

Retail businesses at 50% capacity, except for essential businesses, as defined by federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Gyms may be open at 50% of their capacity.

Places of worship will remain at a maximum of 75% of their capacity or the number of people who can physically distance with at least six feet between each immediate household. The State Fire Marshal will put out additional COVID mitigation measures to make services safer.

Barber and beauty shops, and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity.
Movie theaters may open at 50% of their capacity.

Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75 individuals.

Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.

All sporting events will be capped at 25% capacity.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate is still in place.

Successful Effort in Saving a Human Life

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announces K-9 Deputy Nick Sandel recently went above and beyond in the performance of his duties.

On October 24, 2020, Deputy Sandel saved a human life by applying a tourniquet to a man who was seriously bleeding.

Sheriff Mitchell commends Deputy Sandel for his courage and selfless service to the citizens of Sabine Parish.

Deputy Sandel was presented an award by Chief Deputy Brad Walker, Sergeant David Remedies and Sheriff Mitchell.

If Our Sacred Vote is Lost, America Will Fail

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

Yes, it is that serious. The hallmark of a legitimately functioning democracy in a free society is the honest exercise of the voting franchise by its citizens. Period. If people become convinced that their vote—the most powerful tool they possess to express themselves, their policy preferences, and to participate in our civic life—is not valued and protected, the rule of law will crumble. And when the rule of law is gone what results is chaos, anarchy, and the law of the jungle. Many people in this country already feel powerless and disconnected and if the hope and faith they place in their vote—their voice—is corrupted and destroyed, our nation cannot endure.

That is why what we have and are learning about the presidential election is so deeply disturbing. If even a fraction of the sworn affidavit testimony and other allegations that have surfaced since Election Day are true, this is the largest, most well-organized, and destructive fraud ever perpetrated on the American people. Win at all costs has costs and if this “election” is not challenged, fixed, and reversed we will have irreparably damaged our country. Americans may be disappointed with an outcome but if they feel the contest was conducted freely and fairly, they will accept it. But not if they believe it was rigged and stolen. Election officials are public officials, and they owe an honest accounting to the citizens they serve that their work was done according to law and with proper safeguards.

Perhaps the most upsetting thing is that we don’t know where to turn for justice. We now know most national media is highly partisan and no longer primarily concerned with pursuing objective, verifiable truth. In the past we would have relied on the FBI, but that agency’s leadership and moral authority have been compromised in the eyes of many Americans. The Department of Justice? Do we really have faith the DOJ would put America’s interests—and we the people—first, or is it also irredeemably politicized? Are there any federal agencies left that unquestionably put America’s interest first? Perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court will restore the constitutional order.

Jefferson wrote powerfully in the Declaration of Independence that government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed” and when government no longer serves its essential purpose in protecting and preserving the freedoms and liberties of our citizens—our unalienable rights—it must be “altered or abolished.” In fact, it is our right and duty to “throw off such government…”

If this apparent theft of a national election is allowed to stand, it may spark the second American revolution. The great Silent Majority in this country, including the 73 million Americans who voted for President Trump, are simply not going to tolerate this. We should continue to pray for our nation and speak out demanding that justice be done—which includes continuing this investigation until every legal vote is counted, correctly and transparently.

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Sabine Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the SPJ, please send it to

Celebrating Thanksgiving

As cases of COVID-19 continue to increase rapidly across the United States, the CDC says the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. If having guests to your home, limit the number of guests, have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use. If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. Have guests bring their own food and drink and if sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Other Thanksgiving activities to consider include a virtual Thanksgiving meal with family and friends who don’t live with you, watching television and playing games with people in your household, online shopping, and delivering food to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others.

Everyone can make Thanksgiving safer by wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet from others who do not live with you.

This Holiday Season Do What’s Best for You and Your Loved Ones
Being away from family and friends during the holidays can be hard. Hard choices to be apart this year may mean that you can spend many more years with your loved ones. When you talk with your friends and family about plans, it’s okay if you decide to stay home and remain apart from others.

Do what is best for your health and the health of your loved ones. Eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, take care of your body, and stay active to lessen fatigue, anxiety, and sadness. This year spend time with those in your own household.

Baby Gumm

By Brad Dison

Frank Gumm was the owner of the New Grand theater in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. His wife, Ethel, was a former actress, pianist and singer. Together, they had three daughters, Suzanne, Virginia, and Frances. Being the youngest, the family called Frances “Baby.” With the help of their mother, the three Gumm sisters developed their voices and their ears for music. Before her third birthday, Baby showed an aptitude for singing and dancing. Even at such a young age, Baby was persistent and practiced constantly.

Just before Christmas, 1925, Baby decided that it was time to make her performance debut on amateur night at her father’s theater. If her parents made any attempt to dissuade her, it failed miserably. She was a determined three-year-old. She selected a seasonal song and rehearsed it numerous times in front of the family on the stairs which led to the second floor of their home. On the evening of the performance, Baby wore a white dress donned with sprigs of holly for a seasonal flare. Someone led her onto the stage and showed her where to stand. She waited patiently and calmly behind the curtain. Perhaps she had not yet reached the age when stage freight develops.

The curtains parted and the public got their first glance at Baby. Seeing such a small child alone on such a large stage must have been a curious sight. The crowd probably thought the performance was going to be just another “cute” act at which they were supposed to politely smile and clap. The orchestra gave Baby a chord as a vocal cue. That was all she needed. Baby began singing the song and the orchestra came in right on cue. As she sang “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way,” the audience members’ eyebrows raised and their mouths dropped. Baby sang in perfect pitch, with perfect timing, and did not miss a single syllable of the lyrics. The crowd cheered as the song neared the ending and the orchestra played the last few notes. Baby’s successful debut was over, or so everyone thought.

As soon as the orchestra finished the last note, Baby began singing the song from the beginning again. The shocked conductor played along and led the orchestra through “Jingle Bells” a second time. Again, Baby performed it flawlessly. Just as before, the crowd cheered for Baby, but she was still not through. She started the song over and the orchestra played along again. She performed “Jingle Bells” the third time just as perfectly as her first two performances. Fearing that Baby would begin the song for a fourth time, her father marched out onto the stage, picked Baby up, and carried her backstage. Even over their cheering, the crowd chuckled as they heard Baby yelling from backstage, “I want to sing some more.” However, this was to be her only performance at her father’s New Grand Theater.

Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Lancaster, California, about an hour and a half north of Hollywood. Baby’s parents developed two different singing acts under different names. One act featured Baby’s sisters, while the other act featured her parents. For some unknown reason, Baby was not included in either act.

In 1926, when Baby was four years old, her parents enrolled her in a training program which prepared children for the stage. Baby’s talent and wit quickly drew attention. She tried out and got the feature role of Cupid in a production held in downtown Los Angeles. Vaudevillian performer Gus Edwards watched Baby perform and met her and her two sisters after the show. Their mother mentioned to Gus that Baby’s older sisters performed as a duo. Gus watched eagerly as Baby’s sisters performed a song from their act, followed by another song from Baby. At Gus’s suggestion, Baby and her sisters formed a trio.

The Gumm Sisters performed a wide variety of popular songs and became a popular act. “Gee, we had a lot of fun,” Baby remembered. “I was the smallest, so I was always in the middle with my arms around Suzanne and Virginia. If things seemed to be dull, I used to tickle them in the ribs. Virginia thought it was funny, but Suzanne took things more seriously. I certainly did catch it when we got off the stage.”

Ethel, acting as manager of the Gumm Sisters, drove the trio from California to Chicago to perform at the Oriental theater. “We were to have billing and everything,” Baby reminisced, “and did we get it! We no sooner arrived on the scene than we saw there, in lights on the marquee, a sign reading ‘The Glum Sisters.’” The girls were disheartened. George Jessel, another performer on the same bill, felt sorry for the girls. He suggested they change the name of their act. From then on, the trio performed under a new name. Soon thereafter, the trio dissolved when Suzanne, and then Virginia, married.

Baby, now twelve years old, went on vacation with her parents to Lake Tahoe. While there, she performed in a program at the lodge. A talent scout from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios happened to be at the performance. A few days later, the talent scout called and asked her to audition at the studio, as they were looking for girl singers.

Entering the grand gates of the movie studio would have intimidated most aspiring performers, but Baby remained calm. When she began singing at the audition, everyone within earshot stopped and listened. Baby had a “childish freshness, naturalness and enthusiasm.” More experts entered the room and she sang again. Then another group of experts listened. All of them agreed and suggested that Louis B. Mayer, head manager of MGM, give her an audition. Mayer, usually busy with a myriad of tasks, auditioned her on the spot. Baby sang beautifully and gracefully. Mayer immediately signed her to a film contract.

Baby went on to have a successful career in motion pictures, television, and as a recording artist. She starred as a farm girl from Kansas in one of the most beloved films of all time. You know Frances “Baby” Gumm by her world-famous stage name…Judy Garland.

1. The Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1940, p.53.

Notice of Death – November 24, 2020

Marilyn Kaye Laroux
January 15, 1943 – November 23, 2020
Service: Saturday, November 28 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church

Troy Clyde Gaddis
April 1, 1933 – November 21, 2020
Service: Wednesday, November 25 at 2 pm at Spring Ridge Baptist Church

Eric Evans
November 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Ophelia “Tootsie” Dumars
November 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Aquila Maxie
November 22, 1992 – November 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Doris Ann Adams
November 19, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Ashisa Michelle Moore
July 9, 1977 – November 18, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Stacy Harold “Pedro” Griffin
June 24, 1967 – November 22, 2020
Service: Wednesday, November 25 at 10 am at Piney Woods Christian Church

Mary F. Bemont
January 07, 1939 – November 22, 2020
Service: Wednesday, November 25 at 2 pm in the chapel of Southern Funeral Home

Aaron Hardwell Jr.
September 4, 1981 – November 22, 2020
Arrangements TBA

Elder Henry Bush
November 19, 2020
Service: Friday, November 27 at 11 am in the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel

Dr. James Aubrey Guin
September 02, 1942 – November 22, 2020
Service: Wednesday, November 25 at 2 pm at Ashland Baptist Church

Tony Davis announces resignation from BESE District 4 seat

In 2015, the people of BESE District 4 elected me to represent them and – in a vote of confidence I may never have the joy of repeating – the same constituency re-elected me without opposition to a second term. I will never be able to express my gratitude for the trust placed in me to represent the nearly 600,000 citizens of District 4.

In 2020, I was blessed with a new professional role—a role I eagerly pursued—to oversee work I genuinely enjoy; it was a good decision for my family and for my professional career. Over the course of the year, however, my responsibilities have grown to the point that I no longer feel confident that I am putting the time, effort, and energy into the representation for which I was elected and that my constituents deserve. It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter as notice that I will step down from the BESE District 4 seat as of January 20, 2021.

I ran for BESE in 2015 with what I felt was a strong understanding of the role. Looking back, I can say with a smile, “I was wrong.” While the challenges were bigger than I anticipated and the learning curve steeper than I expected, the opportunities to change and shape Louisiana for the better were far more numerous than I could have ever thought possible. To ensure my time in this position was used to create positive change was a responsibility I never took lightly.

Over the past five years as Chair of the Administration and Finance Committee, I have worked with my fellow BESE members and a variety of stakeholders to find consensus where appropriate while holding the line where necessary. I have supported choice for the families of this state, revamped and expanded career training opportunities for students, and led efforts to expand and support early childhood education—all of which are critical to improving Louisianans’ potential for success in life. I have worked with legislative leaders, Department staff, board members, and diverse stakeholders to guide the MFP each year. Through it all, I have fought to ensure we maintain accountability and high expectations for all our students.

Since being elected, I have had the pleasure to serve with two boards comprised of diverse stakeholders with different backgrounds and while we did not always agree on “how” to best serve students, I have never doubted that we all wanted what was best for Louisiana students.

Ultimately, I have weighed each decision I’ve had to make against our students and our future—how do we make both better? I believe I have held true to that standard and leave with only one regret—not being able to finish my obligation to this term and the people of District 4. I wish the best to my fellow BESE members and hope they remember that the children of Louisiana trust them and are relying on them to make the best decisions—not the easy decisions—for enhancing and advancing education in our great state.

NSU Men’s Basketball: Demons add Anacoco wing Shaun Riley

The Northwestern State men’s basketball team’s early signing period began with the addition of an athletic wing who is off to a fast start in his senior season.

Shaun Riley, a forward from Anacoco High School, signed his letter of intent with the Demons on Wednesday, continuing NSU’s longstanding connection with area high schools.

“We are very excited to sign such a talented young man, who is right in our own backyard,” said coach Mike McConathy, whose 22nd season at the helm of the NSU program begins Nov. 25 at No. 14 Texas Tech.

“Shaun fills an identified need within our program. He combines a great, competitive nature with explosive athleticism. He is an above-the-rim player who fits in with the fast pace we want to play in our program.”

The 6-foot-6, 195-pound Riley has helped lead Anacoco to wins in its first three games of the season, averaging 19.6 points and 10 rebounds per game in those contests.

“Shaun attacks the glass on both ends very well, understands the game and is a great teammate,” McConathy said. “He is first-class in every way on and off the court. Shaun will thrive within our program because of his work ethic. He will add value to our team, university and community immediately. We look forward to him wearing NSU purple.”

Riley’s high school coach, Randy Carlisle, echoed McConathy’s sentiments about the athletic wing.

“He is a great athlete who can make an immediate impact at NSU,” said Carlisle, a college teammate of McConathy’s who has won five Louisiana state championships and two Texas state crowns and is approaching 900 career wins.

“He is a classy young man with unlimited potential.”

Sheriff Mitchell announces new phone system

Sheriff Aaron Mitchell announces that tomorrow evening, November 19th, the Sheriff’s Office will be transferring to an automated telephone system. This will affect the 318-256-9241 phone number.

Citizens will be required to select a number for the department within the Sheriff’s Office they wish to speak with. This will take the call volume from Dispatch so they will be able to focus more on Emergency 911 calls and radio traffic.

Sheriff Mitchell urges citizens to please be patient with us as we transfer to this system. As always, if you have an emergency, please dial 911.