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Louisiana closes Highway 80 bridge in Madison Parish

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Closures U.S. 65 Madison Parish May 19 20

Effective immediately, U.S. Highway 80 in Louisiana’s Madison Parish will be closed at the Bayou Macon Bridge one mile east of the intersection of Louisiana 17 and U.S. 80 near Delhi, La.

This closure is required due to deterioration of bridge components over Bayou Macon. This closure will remain in effect until the damages to the bridge can be fully investigated and all necessary repairs are completed.

The detour route will be Louisiana 17, Interstate 20, Louisiana 577 and U.S. 80.

DOTD reminds motorists to NEVER drive around ‘road closed’ barricades at any time for any reason. DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Call 511 or visit www.511la.org for additional information. Out-of-state travelers may call I-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511). Motorists may also monitor the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development website at www.dotd.la.gov, by selecting MyDOTD, or by visiting the DOTD Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Governor releases budget recommendations for fiscal year 2022

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves in a news conference April 20. (Photo via video screen capture)

Monday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced his fiscal year 2022 executive budget recommendations.

Among his recommendations, Reeves is touting eliminating personal income tax for Mississippians, which is part of a law passed in 2017. As of 2019, individual income tax brought in about a third of the state’s revenue, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

The plan was proposed and passed by the Republican controlled state Legislature in 2017. Now, Reeves is focusing on what the elimination of the roughly $2.2 billion in state revenue would mean to individual tax payers. It would save a Mississippian making $40,000 about $1,850 the governor said in a news release. The phased rollout is expected to be finalized over 10 years, and the maximum tax savings would only be realized at the end of the plan.

As Lt. Governor, Reeves helped pass the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act that began the phase-out of the 3% income tax on the first $5,000 of income. FY 2022, which begins in the fall of next year, is the first year for the 3% income tax to be completely eliminated if all goes according to plan, and Reeves said this is the right time to begin a complete the phase-out of the income tax.

“Because this plan is a phased approach, we will be able to ensure adequate funding will be available for education, law enforcement, health care and transportation priorities,” Reeves said in the statement. “It will not be necessary for us to increase other taxes in order to make up for lost revenue from the elimination of the income tax.”

Republicans are banking on making up the lost revenue by reinvestment such as expanded corporate capital projects and increased production and purchase of goods and services. The tax cut phases would only proceed if the state sees proportional increases in its gross domestic product.

The budget summary also highlights

  • additional funding for the Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy,
  • protecting small businesses affected by COVID-19,
  • creating a “Patriotic Education Fund” to counter “indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings,”
  • supporting quality education by “limiting funding for school districts unwilling to provide the option” of in-person classes during the pandemic,
  • increasing workforce development,
  • funding state agencies such as the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi State Department of Health for their part in the COVID-19 response
  • funding the judiciary and
  • protecting the integrity of Medicaid through driving down taxpayer costs.

“I remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi,” the governor wrote in his proposal.

Reeves is recommending $2 million to train and prepare teachers across the state in computer science courses to provide K-12 students with coding, cyber training, robotics and artificial intelligence skills. The governor is also recommending $3 million to fund coaches targeting math skills.

“We have seen the success of reading coaches as a tool to boost the early learning for our children. We need to accelerate recent successes in results for math – setting children up for success,” Reeves said.

The governor is also proposing $50 million in one-time funds to accelerate workforce growth. Those funds would be used to facilitate six specific goals as listed in the budget:

  1. Modernize and expand community college training programs,
  2. Provide scholarships or wage assistance to help low-income citizens get into training programs or apprenticeships,
  3. Develop the right industry certified credentials or programs in high-school,
  4. Grow Mississippi’s path of IT-based skills,
  5. Expand dual credit programs in high-schools, and
  6. Incentivize career technical courses in high-schools.

“I have always promised to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars, and this budget reflects that commitment to each of you,” Reeves said.

Overall, Reeves’ proposal is $1.1 billion less than the nearly $7.3 billion budget for the current fiscal year. The savings are realized through essentially cutting programs funded through the $1.25 federal emergency COVID-19 relief bill known as the CARES Act. The proposal’s biggest cuts include taking $200 million from the general education funds for distance learning and broadband availability, $7.5 million from higher education, $96 million from MSDH’s COVID-19 funds for hospitals, $13 million from the Department of Agriculture, $99.3 million from social welfare, $115 million from Military, Police and Veterans Affairs and $55 million from the Employment Security Fund, which helped fund the enormous uptick in unemployment benefits after “non-essential” businesses were shut down last spring.

Read the governor’s proposal (PDF).

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COVID-19

905 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday in Mississippi; hospitalizations rising quickly

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Mississippi’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases remained above 1,000 cases per day Tuesday, with more than 900 cases reported. The total number of new cases reported so far in November (15,643) exceed all of those reported for the month of September and, at just barely over the half-month mark, the total is about 50% of the 31,500 cases reported in July, the peak of the summer surge. Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves brought the number of counties under masks mandates to 22.

As expected, when case counts go up, hospitalizations go up. Mississippians hospitalized for the virus stands at about 72% of summer’s peak.

Hospitals across the country have seen a 46% rise in COVID-19 patients in the past two weeks, following an 82% rise in new cases and leading a 40% rise in deaths. The seven-day average for new cases nationally is more than 155,000 per day.

In Warren County, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported three new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,663, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 905 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 135,803. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,095, about 328 higher than the seven-day average a month ago, and on par with numbers in late July and early August.

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 Tuesday that 36 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,581. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.6%. This rate has dropped slightly 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 was 67 reported Aug. 25.

Of the 36 deaths MSDH reported Tuesday, 19 occurred between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Tuesday
Alcorn 1
Bolivar 1
Chickasaw 1
Desoto 1
Forrest 2
Jackson 4
Jasper 1
Jefferson Davis 1
Lee 1
Madison 1
Marshall 1
Panola 1
Rankin 1
Tate 1
Tippah 1

Seventeen COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Sept. 23 and Nov. 11 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified on death certificate reports
Copiah 1
Desoto 3
Greene 1
Grenada 1
Hancock 1
Harrison 3
Jackson 2
Leflore 1
Marshall 1
Panola 2
Simpson 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16. 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. Monday, Nov. 16, was 868, about 72% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 775 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 93 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 201 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 93 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 116,683 through Sunday, Nov. 15. It represents about 85.9% of the cumulative 135,803 cases reported as of Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Tuesday, Oct. 27, was 1,560, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,504, or about 90.4% of the 1,663 cumulative cases reported as of Tuesday, Nov. 17. The county has an estimated 103 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. 14, is 1,165,593 or about 39.2% 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 rate was 18.8% Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 154 Tuesday. About 38.6%, or 1,382, 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 by provider here. The latest data available is for the week ending Nov. 1.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Crime

Couple wanted for kidnapping in Copiah County

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Donald Free and Monica Barnett (photos courtesy CCSO)

Donald James Free, 25, and Monica Denise Barnett, 30, are wanted for the commission of a kidnapping in Copiah County in connection with an incident that occurred Wednesday, Nov. 11.

Authorities believe they are traveling in a white 2001 Nissan Altima 4-door sedan with Mississippi license plate JCA2783.

Free and Barnett are considered armed and dangerous.

If you come in contact or know the whereabouts of Free or Barnett, please contact the Copiah County Sheriff’s Office Investigations unit at 601-892-2023.

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