Mississippi Edition

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7/27/20 - New Executive Orders | SWAC Suspends Football | Census Response Rate

The Governor introduces new restrictive measures to slow the growing rate of COVID transmission, and ease the strain on an overwhelmed hospital system.

Then, Mississippi's three public HBCUs will not be playing football this fall. We check in with their athletic department about the SWAC's decision to suspend fall sports.

Plus, the Census response rate in Mississippi is below the national average. We examine why it's important to get counted.

Segment 1:

Governor Tate Reeves is taking more restrictive measures to slow what has been the worst month of COVID-19 transmission since the pandemic reached Mississippi in mid-March. Last week, Reeves announced three new additions to existing measures, beginning with the addition of six new counties under his mask mandate. Reeves added Calhoun, Holmes, Lamar, Montgomery, Winston, and Yalabusha counties to the existing list of 23 under the current order. Reeves did not remove any counties from the existing list. Reeves also placed further state-wide restrictions on social gatherings. The third added measure by Reeves restricts operations in bars. Reeves says bars should look and work more like restaurants - with spaced seating - and cited the growing number of cases in 18 - 39 year olds as a motivating factor behind the order. Reeves hopes the measures will help reduce the strain on the state's hospital system.  

Segment 2:

After causing the cancellation of winter championships and spring seasons, the coronavirus pandemic is now threatening football and other fall sports. The Ivy League said earlier this month that it is canceling all fall sports, toppling the first in what appears to be a string of dominoes. This week, the SouthwesterN Athletic Conference announced it will suspend it's football and fall sports until the spring - making it the first major conference with ties to Mississippi to take such action. Mississippi's three public HBCU's - Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, and Mississippi Valley State University - are all members of the SWAC. Our Michael Guidry discusses with ASU's Derek Horne and JSU's Dennis Driscoll.

Segment 3:

The U.S. Census Bureau is continuing to count every person living in the country for the 2020 Census. But the self-report rates in Mississippi are falling below the national average - 57% in-state compared to 62% nationally. Response is even slower in the capital city, dropping to a 56% rate. Marilyn Stephens is an Assistant Regional Census Manager. She says census workers are back in the field to ensure those who have yet to self-report, get counted.

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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.