By Jeff Adelson | Nola.com
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is now facing a $150 million deficit due to the coronavirus and warned that the Sewerage & Water Board could be unable to pay its bills as her administration prepped new, temporary morgues to handle New Orleans’ rising death toll.
In a wide-ranging press conference Thursday afternoon, Cantrell decried the federal stimulus bill as leaving out New Orleans, one of the cities hardest hit by the virus in the U.S. She said the S&WB could “potentially” be facing bankruptcy and warned about the massive projected loss in sales tax revenue as a result of rules shutting down bars and restaurants and orders for residents to stay at home.
The CARES Act, the $2 trillion federal rescue package intended to provide assistance to individuals and relief to communities amid the economic calamity caused by COVID-19, falls far short of what New Orleans will need to recover from the crisis, Cantrell said.
The law allows cities with more than 500,000 residents to apply for direct federal relief from the impact of the coronavirus. New Orleans falls a little more than 100,000 short of the population needed to qualify. As such, New Orleans will only be able to apply for aid to cover the money it spends directly on battling the virus, and not the broader economic impact of lost conventions, shuttered shops and closed bars and restaurants.
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