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Collapse unearthed remains of civil war soldiers at the Vicksburg National Cemetery

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This section of the Vicksburg National Military Park has experienced severe erosion since February. (Photo by David Day)

From the Vicksburg National Military Park

Archeologists from the National Park Service’s Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) are recovering the remains of Civil War soldiers from the collapsed section of the Vicksburg National Cemetery. The remains will be removed from graves that were part of the collapse or that are in an unstable area. Approximately 15 burials will be affected.

Each set of remains will be carefully removed and stored to ensure that the remains of each soldier are kept together. DNA testing may be required to ensure that each soldier’s remains are identified. The identity of the soldiers is unknown.

“This is among the most important work that we do,” said Archeologist Dawn Lawrence. “These soldiers served and died for their country and they deserve our respect for their sacrifice.”

The archeologists worked with public health and safety specialists to create procedures they are using to prevent the spread of and protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus. The procedures follow the Center for Disease and Control Prevention and public health guidelines. For example, each of the SEAC crew members volunteered for this assignment and self-quarantined for 5 days before starting their drive to Vicksburg from Tallahassee.

“I am deeply grateful to these women and men for being willing to take on this important work, especially now” Superintendent Bill Justice said. “The collapse of the Cemetery Road in February created tremendous challenges. None are more important than protecting the remains of those who fell in the service of our country. These archeologists stepped forward to ensure that happens. They are a special group.”

The soldiers’ remains will be reinterred in the Vicksburg National Cemetery.

Read more about the February issues causing the collapse.

See our live, on-the-scene report on our Facebook page.

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Section of Cherry Street closed Tuesday

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Tuesday, Dec. 1, beginning at 8 a.m., Cherry Street between Chambers Street and East Avenue will be closed for the day.

According to Garnett Van Norman, Director of Public Works for the city, the closure is due to utility repairs being conducted by contractors for the city.

The closure is expected to have that section of the street closed throughout the day.

Please make plans to take an alternative route.

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COVID-19

Mississippi hits a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations

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(Source: Dr. Thomas Dobbs)

On Sunday, the number of patients in Mississippi hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 infections hit a new record, with 1,008 patients. Adding another 107 people with suspected infections brought the number to 1,115 people.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who heads the Mississippi State Health Department, called the situation “truly serious” in a tweet Monday.

Dobbs noted in his tweet that he expects a post-holiday acceleration of new cases , which already average more than 1,300 per day in Mississippi. In addition, the normal dip in the number of reported cases over weekends and holidays did not occur over the Thanksgiving weekend. Generally, fewer tests are run Saturdays and Sundays, and fewer clinics report results. Instead, 3,330 new cases were reported to MSDH for Saturday and Sunday, rushing past the 150,000 threshold of cases since March when the first case was confirmed in Mississippi.

Top health officials shared Dobbs’ concern regarding the entirety of the U.S. A record number of travelers headed home for the holidays, ignoring advice not to travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources. The Transportation Security Administration reports that around 3 million Americans flew the day before and after Thanksgiving. Sunday was the busiest day in airports since March.

“It’s going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday.

Flattening the curve of hospitalizations has been the primary goal of many restrictions surrounding the pandemic, but the U.S. is approaching record numbers instead. About 95,000 people are hospitalized across the country, stretching the health care system to a breaking point in some areas.

“It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” said Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Birx and others emphasized that people need to take it upon themselves to be restrictive, even in places that do not have specific regulations in place to curb the spread of the virus. In Mississippi, the governor has put half of the state’s 82 counties under mask mandates and other measures, even as leading health officials plead that he impose a mask mandate statewide. The state reported a record number of new cases in November, with more than 33,000, bring the cumulative case count well over 150,000 by the end of the month.

Although Warren County is not on the governor’s list, Vicksburg’s Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and the Warren County Board of Supervisors have imposed mask mandates. Those mandates are likely the reason Warren County has not suffered the huge increases seen elsewhere in the state. The county reported only one death this month, and it is unclear from MSDH data when that death actually happened. Even so, the average for new cases has nearly doubled in November (from about five per day to 9.7).

As a group, health officials are strongly advocating that people protect themselves and others by wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and distancing themselves from others including limiting the sizes of groups — the same advice they have given since almost since the start of the crisis.

As Dobbs said in his tweet, “Protect yourselves and your family now. And we all know how.”

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COVID-19

Mississippi reports sixth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases

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Moderna, the second pharmaceutical company that announced success of its COVID-19 vaccine in early testing, expects to apply Monday for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. If all goes well and approval is granted, distribution could begin as early as Dec. 21 for health care workers, the elderly and other high-risk groups. The company says its vaccine has proven to be 94.1% effective in a test of more than 30,000 people.

Monday. the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the sixth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases. The expected drop in weekend cases, which has been consistent due to fewer clinics reporting on weekends and holidays, did not materialize over the Thanksgiving holiday. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is over 1,300 per day.

During the month of November, the state added 33,110 new cases, the most reported in one month since the crises began. Cases are up 66.4% over October. The number of deaths reported statewide in November, 473, is up 77.1% over the previous month.

In Warren County, MSDH reported nine new COVID-19 case Sunday, 10 new cases Monday and no new deaths either day. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,787, and the county’s death toll is 57. Although the county continues to have almost no deaths reported this month, its 14-day average of new cases has risen from about five cases per day at the beginning of the month to 8.7 cases at the end of the month, nearly a 60% increase. The seven-day average is 9.4.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,845 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 1,485 cases Monday bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 153,270. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,341.6 per day, about 562 cases higher than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages are on par with numbers seen in July.

At the beginning of the crises, the age group with the most COVID-19 cases were those over 65. Now, most new cases are seen in younger people who are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. In September, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi were 18 to 24 years old. That has shifted to a slightly older group. In November, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are from 25 to 39 years old followed by those 50 to 64 years old.

MSDH reported that 27 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide Sunday and one more Monday. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,807. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.5%. This rate has dropped as the number of cases are going up faster than the number of deaths at this time.

Deaths are a lagging indicator. While July saw the highest number of new cases since the crisis began, August saw the highest number of deaths. The highest number of deaths in any one day in Mississippi was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 27 deaths MSDH reported Sunday, nine occurred between Nov.27 and Nov. 28 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Sunday
Jackson 1
Lafayette 1
Madison 1
Panola 1
Scott 1
Walthall 1
Washington 1
Winston 2

Another 18 COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Sept. 7 and Nov. 12 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Adams 1
George 1
Hancock 1
Harrison 1
Jackson 4
Leflore 1
Monroe 1
Panola 1
Pearl River 1
Pontotoc 1
Prentiss 1
Stone 1
Union 1
Yalobusha 1
Yazoo 1

The one death reported Monday occurred Nov. 28 in Panola County.

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, and Sunday, Nov. 29. MSDH usually reports statistics on the COVID-19 coronavirus each day based on the previous day’s testing and death reports.

The primary metric concerning state health officials are the numbers of people hospitalized, and that number rose steadily with the rise of new cases in July and August. On June 6, the number of Mississippians hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 was at 358. Hospitalizations tripled by late July.

Hospitalizations then steadily dropped through Oct. 3 when they began rising again along with increased cases. The last week in October, hospitalizations began levelling off; however, since Nov. 4 hospitals have seen a steady rise in COVID-19 patients once again.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, was 1,058, about 88% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 971 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 87 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 245 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 130 were on ventilators.

Source; MSDH

MSDH has estimated the number of people who can be presumed recovered from COVID-19 in Mississippi. That number is 121,637 through Sunday, Nov. 22. It represents about 79.4% of the cumulative 153,270 cases reported as of Monday, Nov. 30.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Monday, Nov. 9, was 1,618, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,561, or about 87.4% of the 1,787 cumulative cases reported as of Monday, Nov. 30. The county has an estimated 169 active cases.

These estimates are based on MSDH’s guidelines for calculating estimated recoveries when hospitalizations are not known, using the number of cases 21 days ago, less known outcomes (deaths).

The total number of Mississippians tested for COVID-19 (PCR and antigen tests identifying current infections) as of Saturday, Nov. 28, is 1,315,279 or about 44.2% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. MSDH reports statewide test results once a week. Without daily updated numbers of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average); however, the estimated rate was 17.6% Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 9.6%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 199 Monday, a decrease of four since Saturday. About 38%, or 1,447, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,709, about 5% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 26 deaths in Warren County were residents of LTC facilities.

MSDH is no longer reporting outbreaks in individual long-term care facilities in Mississippi and has replaced it with access to a database from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. You can access and search the data by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 15.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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