Mississippi Edition


10/23/20 - Rising Hospitalizations | Gulf States Newsroom: Halloween | New Voting Provisions and Turnout

As coronavirus transmission intensifies, health care professionals prepare for a rising trend in hospitalizations.Then, a Gulf States Newsroom special report examines how families are preparing for a different Halloween.Plus, absentee voting has been a central focus this election.We check in at the local level to see how officials are handling the final days of election season.Segment 1:Hospitalizations in Mississippi are spiking as transmission of the coronavirus continues to worsen - up 44% since the beginning of October according to data released by the department of health.Reported cases of COVID-19 are also on the rise with 958 new cases reported yesterday.In an effort to keep the hospital system from being overwhelmed, Governor Tate Reeves has issued an Executive Order placing 10% capacity requirement on healthcare facilities across the state. If hospitals cannot maintain 10% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients, they must delay elective procedures.Dr. Roderick Givens with the Mississippi State Medical Association says cases and hospitalizations decreased during the period the statewide mask mandate.He tells our Kobee Vance the recent provisions are a viable way for hospitals to continue operations while ensuring beds for future COVID-19 patients.Segment 2:The coronavirus pandemic affects virtually everything and that includes Halloween. It’s such a big issue across the South that recently, when a girl emailed New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell asking if the holiday was canceled, the mayor went on the record at a press conference. Families everywhere are trying to figure out how to make celebrating safe. From W-B-H-M in Birmingham, Andrew Yeager reports.Segment 3:Election officials in Mississippi are preparing to manage new requirements this election season.One new provision allows voters to "cure" rejected absentee ballots.These ballots are usually dismissed due to a perceived signature mismatch.The new requirement prevents absentee ballots from being rejected for such an error.A second provision is for curb-side voting.While this method of voting has always been available, the change ensures those with COVID-symptoms can safely vote without endangering others at polling locations. Our Desare Frazier checks in with Alcorn County Circuit Clerk Crystal Starling and Jackson County Election Commissioner Danny Glaskox.

10/22/20 - Absentee Voting Lawsuit Reaction | Medical Marijuana Debate Heats Up | Book Club: Rick Cleveland

Voter advocacy groups respond to a federal ruling opening a door to curbside voting and the opportunity to "cure" rejected ballots.Then, as the election draws nearer, the arguments for and against Initiative 65 are being amplified.Plus, in today’s Book Club … “Stories from 125 years of Ole Miss Football.”Segment 1:Voting rights advocates say they’re chipping away at Mississippi laws that restrict voting in Mississippi. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit to expand absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The case was dismissed. But not without agreed provisions from the secretary of state’s office including curb-side Election Day voting and the chance to "cure" rejected ballots.Attorney Jennifer Nwachukwu and Corey Wiggins of the MS NAACP talk with our Desare Frazier.Segment 2:The debate over if and how Mississippi will legalize medical marijuana is heating up.This week, coalitions on both side of the issue went public with efforts to make their voices heard.Segment 3:The University of Mississippi has a long and storied history of its football teams and coaches.A year ago, Publisher and editor, Neil White, along with Rick Cleveland and other writers gathered together hundreds of tales for the book, “Stories from 125 years of Ole Miss Football” … the ten greatest victories, the ten most disappointing defeats, the undefeated season no one remembers and as Cleveland details, the coach who got his team drunk during the game.

10/21/20 - Federal Ruling on Rejected Ballots | State Fair Extended | Severe Weather Season

**This episode was produced during Fall Drive and is shorter to provide time on air for drive.Participate in our Fall Drive by visiting mpbonline.org**A federal ruling allows Mississippi voters to correct rejected absentee ballots.Then, at the urging of vendors, the commissioner of agriculture extends the state fair.Plus, since 1950 more strong tornados have occurred in November than any other month except May. We examine what causes Mississippi’s severe fall weather.Segment 1:A federal judge's ruling is instructing the Mississippi Secretary of State's office to allow voters the chance to correct rejected absentee ballots.The provision, which is a result of a federal lawsuit brought by voting rights organizations to expand absentee voting in the state, says ballots rejected due to signature problems will be eligible for correction.Christy Wheeler is with the League of Women Voters of Mississippi, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. She tells our Desare Frazier this ruling doesn't account for the missed opportunities to expand absentee voting.Segment 2:The Mississippi State Fair was scheduled to end Sunday. But after conversations with fair vendors, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson is extending the event.The fair's first weekend was significantly affected by Hurricane Delta - shortening operating hours and driving attendance down.The coronavirus pandemic also presented challenges with capacity limits and social distance monitoring.Gipson tells our Kobee Vance he hopes the combination of favorable weather and eager vendors will make for a successful extended weekend.Segment 3:The forecast calls for sunny skies, but residents across the state will be hearing the sounds of tornado sirens this morning.The alarm is part of a statewide tornado drill happening in observance of Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week.Since 1950, November has experienced more strong tornadoes than any other month besides May. Meteorologist John Moore is with the National Weather Service in Jackson.He says severe weather occurs when cooler air from the north overtakes warmer air masses in the south.

10/20/20 - New County Mask Mandates | MS Connects Devices go to Schools | Severe Weather Prep Week

**This episode was produced during Fall Drive and is shorter to provide time on air for drive.Participate in our Fall Drive by visiting mpbonline.org**The Governor issues tightened restrictions on targeted countries as coronavirus cases increase.Then, the CARES Act-funded Mississippi Connects program delivers devices to school districts.Plus, MEMA helps prepare residents for severe fall weather.Segment 1:Governor Tate Reeves is taking additional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 following a weeks-long trend of growing cases and hospitalizations. A new executive order, issued today, introduces targeted measures in nine Mississippi counties. Reeves says the role of government interaction should be as limited as possible.Hospitalization rates are growing according to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.He also says there has been a shift in communities most recently affected by COVID-19. Dobbs says the testing and tracing elements are in place to fight continued mitigation, but indicates Mississippians are missing a vital piece.Segment 2:Computer devices by the thousands continue to make their way to Mississippi school districts for students and teachers across the state studying virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.The devices are being distributed as a part of the CARES Act-funded Mississippi Connects program.We hear from John Kramen of the Mississippi Department, and our Desare Frazier speaks with Okolona Superintendent Chad Spence.Segment 3:This week is Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week, and the Mississippi Management Agency wants residents to understand the various threats fall weather can bring to the state.Malary White is the External Affairs Director for MEMA.She tells our Michael Guidry, while Mississippians commonly associate tornadoes with the spring months of April and May, the fall months can bring their fair share of storms as well.

10/19/20 - COVID's Rising Trends | Uninsured Children | USA IBC Pushed Back

**This episode was produced during Fall Drive and is shorter to provide time on air for drive.Participate in our Fall Drive by visiting mpbonline.org**State health officials continue to signal the state is on the brink of another upward swing in coronavirus cases.Then, since 2016 the rate of uninsured children in Mississippi has increased by one of the largest rates in the country.We examine why.Plus, one of the world's premiere ballet competitions postpones its 2022 quadrennial event.Segment 1:Coronavirus transmission is spiking in Mississippi, and health officials are reporting cases are growing fastest in older generations. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says while transmission rates are in nursing homes, the majority of the transmission is within communities or families.According to State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state has the testing and tracing infrastructure in place to identify cases and stop the chain of transmission.But, he also says Mississippians are ignoring one key piece of the puzzle.Segment 2:A news study finds the number of children without health insurance in Mississippi is increasing at an alarming rate. Georgetown University Center for Children and Families estimates 46,000 children didn’t have health coverage last year--a number that’s risen 24 percent since 2016. Linda Dixon with the Mississippi Center for Justice tells our Desare Frazier it’s one of the largest jumps in the country.Segment 3:It's known as the Olympics of Ballet, and it calls Jackson, Mississippi home every four years.Since 1979, The USA International Ballet Competition has hosted hundreds of dancers from around the world, competing in the one of the most renowned events the dance world offers.But, due to complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, sister competitions in Europe were canceled, and the scheduled 2022 competition in Jackson is being pushed back a year.Mona Nicholas, USA IBC's Executive Director, explains how the international dance community came together to solve a unique problem.

10/16/20 - Health Experts Predictions Realized | Breast Cancer Awareness | Earthquakes

**This episode was produced during Fall Drive and is shorter to provide time on air for drive.Participate in our Fall Drive by visiting mpbonline.org**The state experiences its highest daily report of COVID-19 in nearly two months, realizing predictions by health officials earlier this week.Then, in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we examine the progress of cancer research.Plus, on the morning of The Great Shakeout, a small earthquake was detected near Columbus. We survey the ground to determine what causes seismic activity in Mississippi.Segment 1:Coronavirus cases are rising in Mississippi, and experts say the state could be on the verge of a second wave of the virus - and that prognosis took one step closer to fruition yesterday as the Department of Health reported 1,322 new cases of COVID-19.That's the highest single day total since August 19th.During a virtual press conference Monday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs indicated the state was on the verge another wave.Segment 2:With nearly 1.3 million people diagnosed annually, breast cancer continues to be one of the most prevalent cancers in the world today.But through heightened awareness, early detection and improved treatment methods, people have a greater chance of survival than ever before.Catherine Young of Susan G. Komen Memphis-Midsouth Mississippi says progress has been made through research efforts.Segment 3:The number of earthquakes known to have occurred within Mississippi’s boundaries is small, but the state has been affected by numerous shocks in neighboring states - including one yesterday 30 miles east of Columbus.The 2.6 quake occurred the day of The Great Shakeout - a nationwide effort focused on earthquake preparedness.Dr. Ron Counts is with the University of Mississippi.He explains what causes seismic activity in the region with our Michael Guidry.

10/15/20 - Medical Marijuana Debate | Census Order to Halt | Book Club: White Lies

**This episode was produced during Fall Drive and is shorter to provide time on air for drive. Participate in our Fall Drive by visiting mpbonline.org** Surrogates for the two medical marijuana initiatives take center stage in a televised debate.Then, the Supreme Court decides to halt the 2020 Census.Plus, in today’s book club, an NPR podcast producer tackles what’s behind claims of legacy and heritage in defending monuments of the confederacy.Segment 1:Mississippians will be deciding whether medical marijuana should be legal in the state when they head to the polls next month.Last night, MPB News hosted a live televised debate to examine the two ballot initiatives - 65 and 65A - voters will have the opportunity to choose from.Here is Angie Calhoun, representing Medical Marijuana 2020 and Jim Perry of the State Board of Health with Wilson Stribling moderating.Segment 2:Mississippians have until tonight to complete the 2020 Census. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to end the count early; after a lower court had extended the deadline. Mississippi’s census response rate is 60 percent. Kayla Kane with the Southern Poverty Law Center tells our Desare Frazier the decision was a shock.Segment 3:The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates there are more than 1,700 public symbols of the confederacy still in place in the U.S. Connor Towne O’Neill produces the NPR podcast and Pulitzer Prize finalist “White Lies.”In his book, Down Along with That Devil's Bones,O’Neill examines the relationship between confederate symbols and white supremacy. He lays the groundwork with Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

10/14/20 - Medical Marijuana Public Hearings | Medicaid | Southern Remedy Health Minute | Childhood Obesity

Mississippians prepare to vote on medical marijuana.Then, legislators hold a joint hearing of Medicaid committees to discuss technical amendments to the Medicaid bill.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation releases it’s State of Childhood Obesity Report.Segment 1:Mississippians are sharing their thoughts about legalizing medical marijuana at a town hall event before the November Election.At an event in Jackson last night, voters turned out to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Ballot Initiative 65 - which could legalize medical marijuana within the framework of the state constitution - and Alternative Measure 65A - which was introduced by legislators to offer more over oversight from state government.Segment 2:Mississippi lawmakers are holding hearings with medical providers to decide how Medicaid should be operated. Medicaid provides healthcare for more than 700,000 low-income Mississippians, and lawmakers want to hear concerns from mental and health care providers as they decide what, if any, changes should be made to the program.Democratic Senator David Blount of Jackson, is on the Medicaid Committee. He explains the technical amendment hearings with our Desare Frazier.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:Roughly one in seven U.S. youth ages 10-17 have obesity according to the newest available data. The data are included in a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, State of Childhood Obesity: Prioritizing Children’s Health During the Pandemic.As experts link obesity to increased risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, the report promotes changes to prioritize children’s health and improve equity in response to the pandemic and throughout recovery.Jamie Bussel is a Senior Program Officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

10/13/20 - Rapid Tests & Rising Cases | Absentee Voting & Enthusiasm | Political Stakes in SCOTUS Hearings

Health officials say rapid point of care tests will soon be available in Mississippi as the state experiences an upward swing in coronavirus transmission.Then, the Secretary of State’s office releases data on absentee voting.Plus, Senate Judiciary hearings for Amy Coney Barrett continue today under a cloud of controversy. We examine the political stakes of her confirmation.Segment 1:The number of Mississippians testing positive for the coronavirus is up, and so is the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. To help in identifying cases quickly, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says new rapid coronavirus test kits are now being used at several drive thru testing sites around the state. Dobbs is concerned about the state's healthcare system being strained once more.He says data points indicate the state is reversing course in it's fight against the coronavirus.Segment 2:A report on the number of Mississippians voting by mail-in absentee ballot is coming out as election day nears.According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office some 91,000 people have requested absentee ballots statewide. Of that number, more than 58,000 have voted and mailed the ballots back to their county circuit clerk's office. Adams County Circuit Clerk Eva Givens tells our Desare Frazier she suspects the number of absentee votes will increase.The number of absentee ballots could be an indication of the stakes of this year's election - with a pandemic causing concerns over safety at the polls.Voters are also focused on major issues like health care and economic recovery and security.Nathan Shrader, chair of the Government and Politics Department at Millsaps College, says voter enthusiasm is usually higher during a Presidential election year.Segment 3:Today the Senate Judiciary Committee continues the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett - President Trump's nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.It is a process clouded in controversy after Senate Republicans refused President Obama's nomination a hearing in 2016 - citing the election year and the will of the voters.Matt Steffey, Professor at the Mississippi College School of Law, breaks down the political stakes of the hearing and confirmation.