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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.

More Episodes

11/20/2020

11/20/20 - Hospitals Near Capacity | JSU President | Poverty and the Pandemic

Rural hospitals reach capacity as the state’s coronavirus cases continue to rise.Then, Mississippi’s largest historically black university names its next president.Plus, we examine the factors of poverty during the pandemic.Segment 1:Rural hospitals in Mississippi are operating at maximum capacity as coronavirus hospitalizations rise across the state. The Department of Health reports COVID-19 related hospital admissions have returned to levels seen during this summer’s peak of the pandemic, and confirmed hospitalizations have more than doubled since the beginning of October. The surge is placing a significant strain on not just the largest medical centers, but also small, rural hospitals. Dr. Jay Pinkerton is Chief of Staff at George Regional Health System in Lucedale.As he tells our Kobee Vance, rural hospitals are facing many of the same challenges as the rest of the nation.Segment 2:Jackson State University has a new president after a months long search process, and it's a face already familiar to the university. Thomas Hudson will continue to serve as president at Jackson State University, after serving as acting president since February. The Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning made the announcement yesterday. Now-president Hudson has also served as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, and Title IX Coordinator for the university. During the announcement, Hudson said his roots in the JSU and capitol city community run deep.Segment 3: Data analysis by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting shows that coronavirus deaths are twice as high per capita in Mississippi’s poorest counties.In the most recent installation of The Poverty and the Pandemic series, investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell explores how generational factors have affected the states poorest areas during the pandemic.Mitchell discusses his findings, starting with the disproportionate death rate of the impoverished.
11/19/2020

11/19/20 - Rising COVID Cases in Schools | No Proposed Teacher Pay Raise | Medical Marijuana Offers Path Home | Book Club: Life Raft Podcast

More school-aged cases of COVID-19 are forcing districts to shift to virtual instruction.And the Governor’s proposed budget comes up short on a campaign promise to teachers.Then, the legalization of medical marijuana could serve as a gateway for some Mississippians to return home.Plus, in today's Book Club - it's not about reading but listening ...to a new podcast that tackles questions of climate change.Segment 1:The number of students testing positive for the coronavirus in Mississippi is on the rise - doubling over the past week - and the number of students in quarantine increased by more than 5000. Health officials say there have been recent cases of transmission in classrooms, but the majority of outbreaks are associated with out of school activities.Dr. Jennifer Bryan chairs the board of the Mississippi State Medical Association.She tells our Kobee Vance the elevated transmission in the communities make school outbreaks a question of "when", not "if"Many of Mississippi's teachers are taking on a more burdensome work load to accommodate the shifts in instruction due the pandemic.And now some are expressing their dissatisfaction with the governor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year which doesn’t include a teacher pay raise.Governor Tate Reeves ran for office in 2019 promising increased pay for teachers.But his proposed budget released earlier this week, falls short on that promise.Kelly Riley with Mississippi Professional Educators tells our Desare Frazier members are calling and contacting her through social media because they’re disappointed.Segment 2:The development of a comprehensive medical marijuana program is underway in Mississippi. Earlier this month, residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize its use for the treatment of 22 debilitating conditions. MPB's Ashley Norwood talks to two Mississippians who've left the state, but are excited about the opportunity to come back home now that medical marijuana is legal.Segment 3:If you pay attention to news about climate change, there are likely a lot of questions on your mind: Is this the new normal for hurricane season? Will it ever get too hot to live here? Have I eaten my last good oyster?A new podcast is setting out to answer questions just like this and relieve some of the stress that comes along with all of it. It’s called Life Raft. Travis Lux is a reporter for New Orleans Public Radio and he’s one of the hosts of the podcast. He starts by laying out the many issues Gulf states like Mississippi face as a result of climate change.
11/18/2020

11/18/20 - Health Officials on COVID | Income Tax Elimination | Southern remedy Health Minute | Examining "Patriotic" Education

As hospitals are filling and more schools are switching to virtual learning, the state’s top health officers urge residents to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.Then, the Governor’s budget proposes an end of the individual income tax. We hear response from lawmakers.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, we examine the Governor’s Patriotic Education Program.Segment 1:Several major hospitals in Mississippi are operating at maximum capacity because of increased coronavirus hospitalizations. The health care system is experiencing admission rates and ICU occupancy that are at their highest since late August.State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says he’s concerned patients won’t receive the highest standard of care if intensive care beds are filled. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers warns cases and quarantines in school communities are spiking.Segment 2:Governor Tate Reeves’ budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes phasing out the state’s individual income tax by 2030. The state income tax takes in $1.8 billion yearly. The governor says the plan will attract new businesses and residents to the state. of Booneville is on the Appropriations Committee. He tells Our Desare Frazier discusses with House Republican Tracy Arnold and House Democrat Robert Johnson.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:In the months leading up the 2020 elections, President Trump denounced the practice of critical race theory and championed the teaching of a historical narrative centered on the concepts of American exceptionalism.Now Governor Tate Reeves is introducing a plan to bring a similar program to Mississippi.In his proposed budget, Reeves allocates three million dollars for what he calls the Patriotic Education Fund. For many historians and teachers of history, the Governor's proposed program is antithetical.Dr. Robert Luckett is an Associate Professor of History and Philosophy at Jackson State University.He calls the program problematic, saying it is the job of historians to perpetually question the narrative.