So far, the majority of the novel coronavirus headlines dealt with places that weren't Livingston Parish.
New Orleans was Louisiana's 'epicenter' for the disease COVID-19, and the governor's 'stay at home' order pushed people off the streets and have an affect on local businesses.
But early reports of cases in Livingston Parish residents didn't include a name, address, or any identifying information from the Department of Health. Even Parish President Layton Ricks did not receive that information, per HIPAA guidelines.
Now, however, a high ranking official from Ward 2 is in the hospital fighting the coronavirus.
Marshal Joe Shumate was admitted to the hospital days ago for symptoms resembling COVID-19, which was confirmed. His wife, Dawn, added that he is alone at the hospital, to help curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.
"I want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support," Dawn Shumate said in a Facebook post. "At this moment we are in need of prayers."
Dawn asked the residents simply comment on the Facebook post on his page with their thoughts, as Shumate's phone has been ringing off the hook. She asked for posts instead of texts or calls because Shumate "needed rest and time to recover."
The novel coronavirus surged more than 400 positive cases from the day before and now stands at 2,746 across Louisiana, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
The death toll also saw an increase of 36 and now stands at 119 across the state, according to the Department of Health.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has now infected 54 of the state’s 64 parishes, though Gov. John Bel Edwards has repeatedly stated the disease is in “every parish.” The vast majority of cases are clustered in the New Orleans area, with Orleans Parish reporting 1,170 positive cases and Jefferson Parish reporting 548.
Locally, the number of coronavirus cases didn’t move in Livingston Parish, which is currently reporting 11 cases and no deaths.
Shumate, who went unopposed qualifying for the Oct. 14, 2017 primary, savored the victory, but said he would not go through a formal inauguration as he did in March.
Instead, he wants to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
“I want to keep it low-key and do everything behind the scenes,” he said. “After they swear me in, I’ll get back to my job.”
He assumed the post in January, 2017 when Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed him interim marshal after Jerry Denton took office as City Court Judge. Denton ran for the judgeship after Charles Borde announced his intention to retire.
Shumate will serve as marshal until Dec. 31, 2020, the expiration of the term Denton began in 2016. The election will be this fall.
“I came from a civil service background, so I had to learn the ropes of how civil work is done as a marshal, which Jerry taught me,” Shumate said. “But I don’t consider myself a politician – I consider myself a professional lawman.”
Shumate – who celebrated his 40th year in law enforcement Aug. 12, 2017 – is hardly a stranger to the Marshal’s Office.
He came aboard as captain Jan. 4, 2010, four days after he retired at the rank of captain from the Denham Springs Police Department, where he served 32 years. Denton promoted Shumate chief deputy – second in command – a year later.
“The eight years under Jerry Denton prepared me for the job I’ve assumed,” Shumate said. “We have a wonderful staff here and we will continue to be productive serving the community.”
A marshal and his deputies handle arrest warrants, evictions and seizure of vehicles. They also process garnishments, work with the fugitive task force and assist other law enforcement agencies.
“Some people forget that we are vested law enforcement officers,” Shumate said. “During the flood, we helped out the reserves, and our people were out working even when their own homes had flooded.
“We worked with our community and back strong,” he said.
During Shumate’s long DSPD tenure, he served as a communications officer and later became a road officer. He then served as a detective and sergeant and eventually captain.
He also had a brief stint as interim chief in 1989, but went back to the post as captain, which he held until his retirement in 2009.
The 1975 graduate of Denham Springs High School also attended law enforcement school at LSU and Southeastern Louisiana University.
Shumate’s son Matthew serves as a lieutenant with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. His daughter, Hayley Shumate Brook, works as a surgical technician.
Shumate also has three grandchildren.