Mississippi Edition

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11/16/20 - Rising COVID Transmission | State Party Chairs on Election | Schools Switch to Virtual

As the holiday season nears, state health leaders evaluate the rising trends in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

 Then, with the election in the rear view mirror, we hear from the state chairmen from both major parties on the lessons learned and next steps forward.

 Plus, heightened community COVID-19 transmission is compelling more schools to switch to distance learning. We talk to one district about its decision to shift one of its largest schools to virtual.

Segment 1:

Health officials continue to sound the alarm as coronavirus cases in Mississippi surge. For the majority of last week, the seven-day rolling average remained around 1,000 new coronavirus cases per day. Hospitalizations and ICU occupancy also continue to rise. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says during this time of heightened transmission, the threat of infection is closer than many would assume. Increased community spread of the virus has led to transmission in school classrooms, causing some schools to return to virtual education. Health officials fear the increased transmission is a result of out-of-balance priorities.

Segment 2:

It has been nearly two weeks since the 2020 General Election, but the tremors from the contentious national contest are still being felt. President Donald Trump has refused to concede to challenger Joe Biden, and has leveled unsubstantiated claims of fraud against the election process in a number of key states. The races in Mississippi, however, are settled and the President's party maintains its stronghold on the state's Congressional seats. All of the GOP's incumbents won re-lection, and the state went strongly for the Trump-Pence ticket. State GOP Chair Frank Bordeaux shares the lessons the party learned from this election.

For the state's Democrat Party, 2020 signaled an opportunity to shift the state "purple" - picking up a key Senate seat. But for the second time in as many years, challenger Mike Espy was not able to win against Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. Retired Judge Tyree Irving is chair of the state party. He reflects on the hard fought campaign.  

Segment 3:

More and more schools across the state are shifting to virtual learning as transmission of the coronavirus soars. While state health officials attribute the rising numbers to community spread, Dr. Thomas Dobbs says they're starting to trace some infections to schools. He is encouraging schools to consider the virtual option. One school shifting to a virtual learning is Germantown High School in Madison County. Gene Wright is Director of Communications for Madison County Schools. She says the decision is a result of the protocols put in place before students reported to campus in September.

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5/14/2021

5/14/21 - Adolescents Get Vaccinated | Freedom Rides, 60 Years Later | 1970 JSU Class Finally Walks

Mississippi’s first 12 to 15 year olds get the Pfizer shot after authorization from the CDC and FDA.Then, 60 years after the Freedom Rides, participants reflect on the meaning of their fight for civil rights.Plus, members of Jackson State’s 1970 graduating class get a ceremony - 51 years after the deadly shootings of Phillip Gibbs and James Green.Segment 1:Young teens in Mississippi are getting their first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine that was recently approved for use in the ages of 12-15.The new authorizations means more than 160 thousand adolescents in Mississippi can get vaccinated.At the University of Mississippi Medical Center, 14 year old Clinton resident Rosemary Williamson is getting her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.With her mother Amy by her side, she tells our Kobee Vance why she decided to get her first dose on the first day.Segment 2:This month marks the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, when young civil rights activists rode buses into the south, challenging segregation in busing and public facilities. As they made the journey from the nation’s capital to the Deep South, they were taunted and beaten by white mobs – and jailed. A few of the buses were even bombed. Janae Pierre, from our partner station WBHM, talked to participants of the movement about what their fight means decades later.Segment 3:James "Lap" Baker was supposed to ceremoniously receive his degree from Jackson State College in 1970.But on May 15th of that year,a police involved shooting brought the spring semester to an abrupt end and postponed graduation.Two African-American men were killed and at least a dozen other people were injured.Baker and over 70 of his classmates will march in their caps and gowns for the first time in a special ceremony at the Green-Gibbs Plaza on the campus of JSU.The site is named after the two young men killed by gunfire from the Mississippi Highway Patrol: Phillip Gibbs,a 21 year-old junior pre-law major and married father of an 18-month-old son and a second unborn child; and James Earl Green, 17, a senior at Jim Hill High School, who was killed while observing the chaos. Baker, an eyewitness, remembers crawling through the grass to get to safety that night.He tells our Ashley Norwood the incident forever changed him.The ceremony for the 1970 class also includes the awarding of honorary doctorates to the late Phillip Gibbs and James Green.Nerene Wray, Phillip Gibbs' sister, will be at the site named after her brother to receive the posthumous honor.She says she appreciates that university and the community still remember Phillip.
5/13/2021

5/13/21 - New Adolescent Group Now Vaccine-eligible | Hesitancy in Rural MS | ACA Special Enrollment

A leading pediatrician responds to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds.Then, with vaccination rates declining statewide, we examine hesitancy in a rural, majority white community.Plus, we hear from the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health on the special enrollment period for health coverage though the ACA marketplace.Segment 1:Parents in Mississippi can begin scheduling a coronavirus vaccination for children age 12 to 15.The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine has received emergency use authorization from the FDA, and has now gained approval by the CDC for use in the adolescent age group.The decision comes at a time of declining vaccination rates in Mississippi.Health officials say around a quarter of the state's nearly three million residents are under the age of 16.Dr. Anita Henderson is President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She tells our Kobee Vance the authorization means clinics and hospitals already offering the Pfizer shot can begin vaccinating eligible children now.Segment 2:Mississippi, along with Louisiana and Alabama, have the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the country. That’s according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Gulf States Newsroom health reporter Shalina Chatlani has been following this story and traveled to North Mississippi to ask people why they were against the shot. She’s joining me today to talk about some of those conversations.Segment 3:The White House is celebrating a public health milestone this week.New enrollment for health coverage during a special period made possible through President Biden's American Rescue Plan has topped one million Americans.The legislation also lowered premiums for nine million Americans who buy their coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and also reduced deductibles by nearly 90 percent.Dr. Rachel Levine is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health.She tells our Michael Guidry the special enrollment period is one step in the administration's goal of making health care a right - not a privilege.