Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.

Louisiana Capitol Building

Louisiana Legislature Calls Special Session Over COVID Restrictions, Unemployment

By: - September 21, 2020

The Louisiana Legislature has called itself into a special session to address Hurricane Laura recovery, COVID-19 policies and the rapidly-dwindling state unemployment trust fund, according to a press release sent out by its Republican leadership. Lawmakers will convene Monday, Sept. 28, and adjourn about a month later, on Oct. 27. More than half of the […]

Louisiana Capitol Building

Louisiana’s unemployment benefits could drop from low to lowest

By: - September 21, 2020

Without drastic intervention, Louisiana will cut unemployment benefits in 2021 to the lowest payouts of anywhere in the country — a maximum of $221 per week, Louisiana Workforce Commission Secretary Ave Dejoie said Friday. Louisiana businesses will also have to begin to pay more in taxes and surcharges to help keep those benefits flowing starting […]

Louisiana restaurants, casinos, bars get to sell alcohol for one more hour

By: - September 18, 2020

Gov. John Bel Edwards adjusted his Phase 3 emergency order Thursday to allow Louisiana restaurants, casinos and bars in certain geographic areas to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption for an extra hour — until 11 p.m. Under the original Phase 3 plan announced last week, those establishments had to stop selling alcohol for on-site drinking […]


LSU Now Allows Students to Quarantine In Their Own Dorm Rooms

By: - September 15, 2020

LSU has quietly shifted its policy for COVID-19 quarantine on campus. Students are now allowed to quarantine in their own dorm rooms under certain circumstances. They no longer have to go to special quarantine housing offered on campus or to hotel rooms in Baton Rouge.  This means some students told to quarantine because they have […]

No vacancies at hotels sheltering hurricane evacuees

By: - September 15, 2020

Louisiana would struggle to provide shelter to another round of hurricane evacuees without risking the spread of COVID-19, said Gov. John Bel Edwards in back-to-back press conferences Sunday and Monday. The state does not have enough hotel rooms to house many more disaster victims and would likely have to rely on large, communal shelters if […]

Gov. John Bel Edwards

Louisiana’s Phase 3: Restaurants, retail shops and churches will be at 75 percent capacity

By: - September 11, 2020

Restaurants, retail shops and churches will be among the venues moving from 50 percent occupancy to 75 percent occupancy under the state’s new Phase 3 COVID-19 rules that will be released Friday afternoon, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in an interview with WWL Radio. The governor is expected to shared the full details of Phase […]

Tiger Stadium

Is it safe to open Tiger Stadium and the Superdome?

By: - September 11, 2020

Update: Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced Friday that the Saints will not be allowed to have people at the team’s game against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 27. This story was published a few hours before that announcement.  Original Story:  By the end of the month, Louisiana expects to have thousands of cheering fans in […]

Alex Billioux

As Louisiana’s COVID-19 response continues, the state’s top public health official is resigning

By: - September 9, 2020

The person who oversees Louisiana’s public health office  — and the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic — is leaving his job. Alex Billioux, a medical doctor and the assistant secretary for the Louisiana Department of Health, will step down at the end of the month, the health department confirmed Wednesday. He has been in […]


Louisiana Prisons Need To Do More COVID-19 Releases, Advocates Say

By: - September 3, 2020

The Department of Corrections says there are 9,000 fewer people detained in Louisiana prisons and jails than when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March, but over half of that reduction is the result of changes to how parole violations, immigration infractions and pre-trial detention are handled. There hasn’t been a dramatic change […]

Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura damage means it will be weeks before Southwest Louisianians can return home

By: - September 3, 2020

Thousands of people won’t be able to return to their homes in Southwest Louisiana for weeks because they won’t have reliable access to power, water and sewer services, state officials and health experts said this week.  The situation is especially dire in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, which were hit directly by Hurricane Laura. The storm […]

Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura Recovery: Numbers that help you understand what’s going on

By: - September 1, 2020

The following are some figures that should help the public understand the impact of Hurricane Laura on Louisiana.  600,000 people face water restrictions — or have no water at all.  There are 74 water systems in Louisiana — affecting about 180,000 people total — where there is a “water outage” due to Hurricane Laura. That […]

LSU Student Union

All Louisiana Universities Expected To Share Coronavirus Case Information

By: - August 20, 2020

All Louisiana higher education institutions are expected to start sharing the number of coronavirus cases among students and staff on their campuses. The announcement came Wednesday, a day after a higher education official said most public universities in the state wouldn’t be sharing such information. “We do believe that the information pertaining to these institutions […]