Mississippi Edition


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 Minute

Segment 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.

More Episodes


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.

7/30/20 - 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.

7/28/20 - School Restarts | Mask Mandates | National Parks

As school districts across the state make plans to reopen, a new survey shows less than 20 percent of Mississippi Educators-- want to return to a traditional class room in the fall--- amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.And as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state, more Mississippi counties are expected to be added to the Governor's mask mandate order--but no statewide order.Then a historic conservation and public lands bill passes Congress--providing billions of dollars to help repair the nation's crumbling national parks.Segment 1:In the next few days and weeks, school districts across the state will begin opening their doors for the start of the fall school year. A new survey released by the Mississippi Association of Educators shows just 18 point 2 percent of those responding want to return to a traditional in-person school setting. Educators say they are fearful for their health and the health of their students during the coronavirus pandemic. All 138 school districts in the state have to submit their plans for how they will educate students in the fall by the end of this week.Governor Tate Reeves says he will review them and will overrule any district by issuing an executive order---if he feels they are not acting in the best interest of students.The Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Mississippi State Medical Association issued a statement over the weekend-- calling for schools to delay reopening---as least until September first to allow time for reduced COVID 19 transmission.They are also calling for mandatory masks in school buildings and that all children be given the option of virtual learning.Dr. John Gaudet is a pediatrician in Hattiesburg. He says they are not only concerned about the health of children--but that of teachers, staff and coaches.Segment 2:Mississippi is still battling the deadly coronavirus. The number of cases in the state has passed52 thousand---and more than 15 hundred people have died from the virus since March.29 of Mississippi's 82 counties are mandated to wear a mask while in public gatherings. Governor Tate Reeves is expected to add 9 more counties to the order this week.He says these counties are having surges in new coronavirus cases. The Mississippi State MedicalAssociation continues to call for a statewide mask mandate to reduce the virus transmission.ButGovernor Reeves says he's taking a more surgical approach.Segment 3:President Donald Trump is expected to sign a bill that would provide billions of dollars to fix the aging infrastructure of the National Park Service, Forest Service and Land and Water Conservation Fund.It's being called one of the most important environmental proposals in decades. In Mississippi, there are about 8 national parks.And the Natchez Trace Parkway alone needs about 290 million dollars for infrastructure repairs. Theresa Pierno is with the National Parks Conservation Association.