Betsy Shepherd

Coastal Reporter

Betsy Shepherd covers environmental news and is producing a podcast on the Civil Rights Movement in small-town Louisiana. She won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for a feature she reported on Louisiana’s 2016 floods.

Before joining New Orleans Public Radio, Betsy served as the managing producer of American Routes and online content coordinator at Indiana Public Media. She received her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and earned two master’s degrees in journalism and ethnomusicology from Indiana University.

In addition to her work at WWNO, Betsy is a freelance radio producer and reporter for the BBC and The Southern Foodways Alliance.

Ways to Connect

Patrick Madden / WWNO

Across the globe, there is massive demand for a limited supply of ventilators, which are needed to save critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has said that if the current rate of infection persists and new ventilators are not made available, the state will run out of the life-saving devices by next week.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The latest on the spread of coronavirus in New Orleans and across Louisiana today, April 1.

Patrick Madden / WWNO

Record numbers of laid-off workers across Louisiana are waiting for badly needed assistance, while the state struggles to process hundreds of thousands of new unemployment claims. Their lives have been doubly upended by quarantine and financial hardship.

Betsy Shepherd / WWNO

The Louisiana Workforce Commission has expanded its staff to help process the surge of unemployment claims they have received following the coronavirus shutdown.

Compared to last week, there’s been a nearly 1,700 percent increase in the number of claims.

Mayor Cantrell/Facebook

In order to help businesses affected by COVID-19, New Orleans is waiving all fines, fees, interest payments and penalties on sales tax payments for the next 60 days, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Tuesday evening.

kowarski / Flickr

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2020 has been rescheduled from its spring dates, April 23 through May 3, to the fall, organizers announced Tuesday evening.

Romtomtom / Flickr

As businesses shutter and New Orleans tourism grinds to a halt, workers throughout the city are feeling the pinch, especially those in the hospitality industry.

Here are some resources for those who’ve lost work because of coronavirus and consequent social distancing mandates.

Courtesy of Nick Detrich

Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday announced plans to shut down casinos, bars and theaters and restrict restaurants to take-out service. Gatherings of 50 people or more are banned.

Jason Paris / Flickr

The coronavirus has hit New Orleans’ hospitality industry especially hard. Most workers don’t have paid sick leave or health insurance. Working remotely isn’t an option. And the city’s new social distancing measures will result in fewer shifts and job cuts.

Photo by Zack Smith Photography, Courtesy of French Quarter Festivals, Inc.

The spread of coronavirus and the number of known COVID-19 cases are ramping up — just as New Orleans enters tourism season. 

This, of course, leaves everyone with a lot of questions about what's canceled, what's safe, what happens to local businesses and what happens to the city's economy. We'll answer those questions here.