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Lawmakers again delay vote to change state flag but plan to stay in Jackson through the weekend

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MIssissippi State Capitol. (Photo by formulanone from Huntsville, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Legislative leaders opted on Thursday to delay a vote to change the state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem, but told lawmakers they would continue working through the weekend, which is longer than initially anticipated.

Early this week, lawmakers indicated they planned to adjourn the regular session on Friday, making the issue of the state flag more urgent. But they now plan to meet longer, most likely through the weekend and into next week.

The delay again leaves no answer to the question on everyone’s mind: “When, if at all, will legislators vote to change the state flag?”

Speaker Philip Gunn in the House and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann in the Senate can bring up a bill to change the state flag at their discretion.

Various sources have confirmed to Mississippi Today that both sides are close to having the necessary votes — within “one or two votes” in both chambers, some said, and others indicated leaders had enough votes in the House — though it’s a fluid situation.

On Thursday afternoon, as Hosemann was walking into Gunn’s office to meet about changing the flag, a reporter asked whether an assertion made by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, that there were at least 20 senators who would definitely not vote to change the flag, was correct.

Twenty senators voting against changing the flag would kill the effort.

“Sen. McDaniel has been here longer than I have. He certainly would be a knowledgeable source, but not necessarily accurate,” Hosemann said.

Lawmakers technically have until July 12, according to legislative rules, to take up the issue of the state flag. If they adjourn the session before that, they cannot come back this year for a state flag vote. Additionally, when they adjourn for the year, the only reason they can come back to Jackson — unless called into special session by Gov. Tate Reeves — is to take up COVID-19 issues.

A two-thirds vote of both chambers (82 of 122 House members, 35 of 52 Senate members) is required to suspend the rules to even consider a bill that would change the flag. If the rules are suspended, a simple majority vote of each chamber (62 of 122 House members, 27 of 52 Senate members) is needed to change the flag.

Legislators could come back in the 2021 session and pass a proposal under the normal process to change the state flag with simple majority votes of both of chambers.

While the flag continues to garner much of the attention, legislators continue to work on completing a state budget and on spending about $900 million in federal funds on coronavirus-related expenses, including funds to improve internet access to rural areas.

Other major bills still being considered deal with enacting criminal justice reform, possibly making it easier to vote early in November, removing a provision from the Constitution giving the House the authority to elect statewide officeholders in certain circumstances, and providing a higher level of protection for businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits.


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

COVID-19

New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. approach July’s one-day record; 795 new cases in Mississippi

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Thursday, the U.S. saw its second highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day since the crisis began, with  76,195 new cases reported. The one-day record high of 77,299 new cases occurred July 16, according to a Reuters analysis.

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar attributed the increase in cases to behavior of individuals, saying household gatherings have become a “major vector of disease spread.”

Deaths in the U.S. have also increased, with the seven-day average of 785, up 13% in the last week.

“We’re in a very serious moment right now,” Azar said.

Currently in the U.S., more than 8.4 million cumulative COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, and 223,087 Americans have died since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in numbers of infections and deaths, although new surges are being reported worldwide.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported seven new COVID-19 cases Friday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,543, and the county’s death toll is 55.

Statewide, MSDH reported 795 new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 113,876. The seven-day average of new cases is 660, higher by 183 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Friday that seven additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,238. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.8%.

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 was 67 reported Aug. 25.

The seven deaths MSDH reported Friday occurred between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Friday
Clarke 1
Hancock 1
Hinds 1
Marshall 2
Panola 1
Tippah 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22. 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 nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They dropped again through Oct. 3; however, hospitalizations have been rising since then.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, is 695, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 599 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 96 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 157 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 68 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 97,675 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 85.8% of the cumulative 113,876 cases reported Friday, Oct. 23.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Friday, Oct. 2, was 1,425, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,370, or about 88.9% of the 1,543 cumulative cases reported as of Friday, Oct. 23. The county has an estimated 118 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 Friday, Oct. 10, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 16.6% Thursday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.7%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 130 Friday. About 40.2%, or 1,301, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

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 here. The latest data available is for the week ending Oct. 11.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Mississippi Rental Assistance grant applications being accepted

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(Photo by Photo Mix from Pixabay)

Applications for the Mississippi Rental Assistance Grant Program are being accepted by the Mississippi Development Authority as of Thursday.

The program is designed for landlords with tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to COVID-19. The program will cover rent going back to March for tenants who have been unable to pay because they lost their job or have reduced income due to COVID-19.

Landlords are eligible for up to $30,000 and must credit grant funds to their tenants’ past due rents. Renters cannot apply directly for this program and should contact their landlords about applying on their behalf. Both small and large landlords can apply for the program.

Landlords should visit www.mississippi.org/mrap to learn more about the program and apply. The application deadline is Nov. 15.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations on the rise with increased cases

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Mississippi is seeing a steady rise in hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19. The rise is consistent with the rise in new cases. The Magnolia State is among numerous other U.S. states that are seeing a rise in cases. Daily new cases in the U.S. are now averaging more than 60,000, a 32% increase in the past two weeks. Major new outbreaks have been reported in the rural Midwest and Rocky Mountain states.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported four new COVID-19 cases Thursday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,536, and the county’s death toll is 55.

Statewide, MSDH reported 958 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 113,081. The seven-day average of new cases is 706, higher by 206 cases from a month ago.

Most new cases are seen in younger people recently, and they are more likely to survive the virus than those 65 and older. By far, the age group reporting the most cases in Mississippi are young people from 18 to 29 years old.

MSDH reported Thursday that eight additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,231. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.9%.

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 was 67 reported Aug. 25.

The eights deaths MSDH reported Thursday occurred between Oct. 18 and Oct. 21 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Benton 1
Chickasaw 1
Covington 1
Desoto 1
Jackson 1
Lafayette 1
Lincoln 1
Marshall 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. 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 nearly tripled by late July. They leveled off in early August and began noticeably dropping in the middle of the month including critical cases and numbers of people requiring ventilators. Hospitalizations continued to drop in September but levelled off at the middle of the month. They dropped again through Oct. 3; however, hospitalizations have been rising since then.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, is 711, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 605 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 106 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 151 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 73 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 97,675 through Sunday, Oct. 11. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 86.4% of the cumulative 113,081 cases reported Thursday, Oct. 22.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Oct. 1, was 1,423, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,368, or about 89% of the 1,536 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Oct. 22. The county has an estimated 113 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 Thursday, Oct. 10, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average) was 17.6% Wednesday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.6%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 126 Tuesday. About 40.2%, or 1,298, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities.

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 here. The latest data available is for the week ending Oct. 11.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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