Mississippi Edition

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5/20/20 - Guidelines for Churches | Case-free County | Southern Remedy Health Minute | New HIV Prevention Drug

Governor Reeves announces guidelines for churches to resume in-person services, while the Health Department is pressured to release more information regarding the outbreaks at long term care facilities.

Then, one Mississippi county has no reported cases of COVID-19. We look at how Issaquena has stayed case-free.

Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, a new preventative HIV medication.

Segment 1:

For nearly two months, churches across the state have held services in parking lots; or virtually through streaming video or conference calls. Now, Governor Tate Reeves is issuing eight pages of guidelines for churches to resume in-person gatherings. Reeves announced the move during his daily press briefing yesterday. Reeves recommends churches deep clean their spaces before welcoming members back. He also suggests they close coffee stations and suspend collection and offering plates. He emphasizes that these are guidelines, and he is leaving it to Mississippi's pastors to determine when to resume in-person gatherings.

The guidelines come as the state eclipses 11,700 cases of COVID-19, and while seven Mississippi counties are under enhanced scrutiny due to concerns over public transmission. Hospitalizations, as well as ICU and ventilator utilization, have remained steady since the beginning of May, with no trends of reduction in the data released by the department of health. Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says cases may not decrease if Mississippians do not accept a new normal.

Segment 2:

Out of 82 Mississippi counties, only one has no confirmed cases of COVD-19 - south Mississippi Delta's Issaquena County. With a population estimate of 1,327 from the U.S. Census Bureau, it is the least populated county east of the Mississippi River.  The county has only recently started testing - at the health clinic in the county seat of Mayserville. So far, no positive cases have been reported. Delta Health Center’s Chief Program Planning and Development Officer Robin Boyles explains some of the reasons why with our Alexandra Watts.

Segment 3:

Southern Remedy Health Minute

Segment 4:

The HIV Prevention Trials Network or HPTN is announcing the results of a global randomized, controlled, double-blind study of an injectable HIV prevention drug. The study shows that CAB LA lowers the HIV incidence in certain tested population groups. Dr. Ben Brock is an Assistant Professor of Infectious Disease at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He tells us more about HPTN and what this study means in the long fight against HIV. 

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7/31/2020

7/31/20 - Education and Economy | Hospitals Near Crisis | New MS Dem Party Chair

Education and the economy take center stage as Mississippi’s worst month of the coronavirus pandemic comes to a close.Then, with a steady trend of high cases, the state’s hospital system remains strained.Plus, how the new chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party plans to broaden its coalition.Segment 1:School districts are submitting their plans for reopening to the Department of Education for review. Districts were provided with three options for reopening, including classroom instruction, online instruction, or a hybrid of the two. Because of rising coronavirus numbers, some school districts are now delaying their reopening, or opting to go online only.The state is also currently operating without an passed education budget bill.Governor Tate Reeves assures money has been transferred into the MAEP ahead of school openings, but says he will not call a special session of the legislature - citing safety concerns. While unwilling to call the legislature until it is completely safe, Reeves continues to advocate for in-person learning as school districts hit the deadline for restart plans.Reeves says just as there are risks associated with on-campus learning, there are also risks associated with keeping kids out of school.Some advocates for traditional school cite the struggling economy as a reason to get kids back in the classroom.The nation experienced a sharp drop in the GDP during the second quarter as unemployment continues at a high rates.Corey Miller with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning tells our Desare Frazier how Mississippi compares to the rest of the nation during a time of economic insecurity.Segment 2:Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Mississippi, and hospitals are preparing for more COVID-19 positive patients. Medical experts, like Dr. Jonathan Wilson, say these impending cases could overwhelm the healthcare system.Wilson is the Incident Manager and Chief Administrative Officer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.He tells our Kobee Vance if coroanvirus hospitalizations increase beyond what the hospital can handle, it will be difficult to maintain the standard of care Mississippians expect.Segment 3:A retired judge is taking the helm of the Mississippi Democratic Party with the goal of diversifying its ranks. New Mississippi Democratic Party Chair, Retired Judge Tyree Irving says the party must be more racially diverse to prevail in the state.Irving, who has served in leadership roles in the party at the county level, tells our Desare Frazier he wants dismantle the narrative that the Democratic Party caters to one race.
7/30/2020

7/30/20 - School Restart Concerns | Center for Medically Fragile Children | Book Club: The River

Schools near the deadline to submit their plans for a safe returnThen, how a state agency with a director arrested for embezzlement got tangled up in a project involving the former First Lady.Plus, in today’s book club,two friends take a wilderness canoe trip and find themselves tested by fire, white water and violence.Segment 1:Mississippi school districts have one more day to submit their reopening plans for the fall as rates of the coronavirus remain high.Governor Tate Reeves, who has been echoing the White House message for students to return to in-person learning, says his team is in the process of reviewing the restart plans of the state's public school districts.As schools prepare for the restart, education advocates worry about the number of challenges administrators and teachers face to accommodate guidelines during period of high community transmission. We talk to Ronnie McGehee, Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of School Administrators, and Nancy Loome of the Parents Campaign.Segment 2:The Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children was a passion project for Deborah Bryant.The center, presented as the first pediatric skilled nursing facility in the state of Mississippi, ceremoniously broke ground in December - with Bryant in attendance. Now the former first lady is cutting formal ties with the long-planned home as a non-profit affiliated with the project is quietly dissolving.Jack Bolonga is an investigative reporter with the Clarion Ledger.He shares more with our Karen Brown about the center, a church, and a dream derailed.Segment 3:A longtime contributor to NPR and bestselling author, Peter Heller writes “The River.”In it is a canoe trip, a woman who vanishes, white water, violence and a friendship tested.As Heller tells us, the impetus for the book came from a conversation he had many years ago with someone he’d just met.
7/29/2020

7/29/20 - COVID in Communities & Broadband Program | Remembering John Lewis | Southern Remedy Health Minute | Flag Commission

State officials continue to weigh options to fight transmission of the coronavirus, and a new broadband program is introduced.Then, Congressman John Lewis returns to Georgia today ahead of his funeral. We speak with two Mississippi Civil Rights veterans on Lewis’ contributions and legacy.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, the flag commission hears from a vexillologist as it prepares to submit a new design to the Legislature.Segment 1:With cases, hospitalizations, and ICU utilization at their sustained highest levels, Mississippi is experiencing it's most severe month of the coronavirus pandemic.Governor Tate Reeves has issued mask mandates in 29 counties, and placed other restrictions on bars and social gatherings.Reeves says its important for residents to understand the virus spares no community. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says while levels of transmission have stabilized, the hard truth is family interaction is still driving the spread.With more communities considering virtual options, the question of internet access has peculated.Reeves introduced a new program to addressed those growing concerns. Mississippi is using federal CARES Act funds and partnerships with electrical Co-Ops to invest more than $150 million dollars to bring broadband internet to un-served and under-served homes and businesses. Sally Doty, Executive Director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff, says the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how important internet access is.Segment 2:Civil Rights icon and "conscience of the Congress" Representative John Lewis will return to Georgia today, to lie in state in the Georgia state capitol ahead of his funeral tomorrow.Lewis was in instrumental figure in the fight for civil rights, helping lead Mississippi's Freedom Summer in 1964.Retired Methodist Reverend and activist Ed King was with Lewis that summer.He recalls what made Lewis a prominent leader during turbulent times. Hezekiah Watkins was a mere teenager when he became a foot-soldier in the fight for civil rights.He tells us how he became acquainted with John Lewis after both men spent time in Parchman State Penitentiary.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:The team appointed to select a new flag design for the November ballot is sorting through over 1,000 public submissions.The commission, formed via the statute to retire the 1894 flag, met for the second time yesterday at the Two Mississippi Museums. Vexillologist Clay Moss was in attendance yesterday, providing guidelines for effective flag design.One of his guidelines: No words or seals.He says the requirement to include "In God We Trust" does present a small challenge.