Mississippi Edition

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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. 


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10/22/2020

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.
10/21/2020

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.
10/20/2020

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.