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Mississippi Secretary of State vows to protect the vote Tuesday



Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson (photo via MSOS website)

While many states across the country just concluded primary elections last week on what is commonly referred to as Super Tuesday, voters in Mississippi are gearing up for our primary election this coming Tuesday, March 10. Over the next few days, Mississippians will see and hear a good bit of election-related information, whether it’s television, radio, newspaper or online ads, or in conversations with family and friends about the various candidates running for office.

“As the state’s Chief Elections Officer, my goal is to have a fair primary election conducted with integrity,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson in a statement, adding that his office “is determined to make sure your right to vote is protected, and we encourage all Mississippians to make their voices heard. Regardless of which party or candidate you support, I encourage you to vote in the primary election on Tuesday. Your vote matters, your vote counts, and your participation in elections is essential to the continuation of our democracy.”

The Secretary of State’s Y’all Vote website helps guide Mississippians through the voting process from start to finish. The website includes information on voter registration, absentee ballots, how to find your polling location and important election deadlines. Sample ballots are also listed for voters to review and study before heading to the polls on March 10.

“Political parties conduct primary elections, but our office will have observers in precincts across the state on Election Day,” Watson said. “Observers will refer any problems witnessed at the polls to the authorities, including the Attorney General’s Office or appropriate District Attorney’s Office. While our office has no legal enforcement authority to resolve problems in party primary elections, we will be on standby to assist in any way that we can. We also offer our Elections Hotline number, 1-800-829-6786, for anyone who wants to report a potential problem on Election Day. If you see a voting irregularity this Tuesday, please give us a call.

“Mississippi has 1,920,958 active registered voters. This number is about 4% higher than the number of active voters for the 2016 presidential primary elections (1,848,450). As we continue to meet with Circuit Clerks and Election Commissioners across the state, I’ve noticed a lower than usual amount of absentee ballots returned to Circuit Clerks. In 2016, Circuit Clerks received more than 20,000 requests for absentee ballots. This year, Circuit Clerks have only received about 15,000 requests, and as of March 3rd, 2020, only about 10,500 ballots have been returned to Circuit Clerks.

“Voting is a right so many brave men and women fought to secure for us. Sadly, many people in countries across the world are still fighting for the right far too many Americans seem to take for granted. When it comes to issues you find concerning, casting a ballot on Election Day is the most important way to make your voice heard. Whether the issues are about roads, schools, public safety, national security, healthcare, education, or taxation – your vote shows who you trust to make decisions that affect your day-to-day life.

“Talk to your children about the importance of voting. Lead by example and show them how important the process is by exercising your right to vote on Tuesday. Honor past generations and help inspire future generations by heading to the polls on Tuesday, March 10.

“If you don’t find it important enough to vote for your own interests and concerns, who will?”


Mississippi shatters its COVID-19 case record with 2,457 new cases, 23 in Warren County



Mississippi shattered its one-day record for new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, reporting nearly 2,500 on the eighth day of more than 1,000 cases. The Mississippi State Department of Health reports that hospitalizations are nearing the July high of around 1,250. There are more patients with confirmed cases Wednesday than ever before in the state. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is over 1,600 per day, another record, with more than 11,000 new cases reported in the last week. The seven-day average high in July was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

Nationally, at least 2,607 people died of the virus Tuesday and 184,174 new cases were reported. While some progress in lowering case numbers has been seen in the Midwest, cases continue to surge almost everywhere else in the country. The number of people hospitalized across the nation is quickly approaching 100,000.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 28 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,830, and the county’s death toll is 58. The seven-day average of new cases has risen to 14.9, nearly triple that of early November.

Statewide, MSDH reported 2,457 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 156,868. The seven-day average of new cases is 1604.6 per day, about 876 cases higher — more than double — than the seven-day average a month ago, when the state’s numbers were already on the rise. The current averages exceed the 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 Wednesday that 15 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,851. 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.

The 15 deaths MSDH reported Wednesday occurred between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Wednesday
Covington 1
Harrison 1
Hinds 2
Itawamba 1
Lowndes 3
Marion 1
Neshoba 1
Pearl River 1
Pike 1
Rankin 1
Walthall 1
Wayne 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1. 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. 30, was 1,158, about 97% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 1,057 with confirmed cases of COVID-19, another record high, and 101 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 250 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 142 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 128,746 through Sunday, Nov. 29. It represents about 84% of the cumulative 156,868 cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 2.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Wednesday, Nov. 11, was 1,630, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,572, or about 85.9% of the 1,830 cumulative cases reported as of Wednesday, Dec. 2. The county has an estimated 200 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 21.9% Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10.2%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 199 Wednesday, a decrease of one since Tuesday. About 37.8%, or 1,456, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 7,773, 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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First COVID-19 vaccine approved in the U.K.



(Illustration by Viruscorona2020 - Own work + L'épidémie au 02/02/2020 - Pr G Pialoux, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The United Kingdom has approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

The move marks the first public use of a vaccine for the virus and a major step toward ending the pandemic, The Associated Press reports.

Both the United States and the European Union are evaluating the Pfizer vaccine and another one manufactured by Moderna. A third vaccine from AstraZeneca is also in the pipeline in the U.K.

A total of 58 vaccines are in various stages of clinical trials on humans, and another 87 are pre-clinical, meaning they’re being tested on animals, according to The New York Times.

If approved in the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be available to health-care workers and first responders by the third week in December, and to the general public in the spring of 2021.

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Vicksburg COVID-19 proclamation Dec. 2 through Jan. 4, 2021 – full text




WHEREAS, pursuant to §§45-17-1 through 45-17-13, and §33-15-17 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, the Mayor is authorized to proclaim that a Civil Emergency exists defined as any natural disaster or man-made calamity resulting in the death or injury of persons to such an extent that extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the public health, safety and welfare; and

WHEREAS, §21-19-3 gives municipalities the authority to make regulations to prevent the spreading of contagious or infectious diseases and to make quarantine laws for that purpose; and

WHEREAS, §33-15-17 authorizes the Mayor to control or restrict egress, ingress and movement within the local emergency area necessary to facilitate the protection of life and property; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to these laws, the Mayor is authorized to issue such orders as he deems necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi; and

WHEREAS, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has spread across this nation is a worldwide pandemic and as of December 1, 2020, the Mississippi Department of Health has reported 154,411 positive confirmed cases and 3,836 deaths in Mississippi, 58 of which were in Warren County; and

WHEREAS, previous emergency orders have required that persons stay at home and that certain businesses be closed in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of Mississippi has adopted a Safe Return Order in an effort to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while allowing the businesses to open and persons to return to work; and

WHEREAS, it is likewise necessary for Vicksburg businesses to safely open and Vicksburg citizens to safely return to work.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF VICKSBURG pursuant to §§45″17-1 through 45″17-13, §21-19-3 and §33-15-17 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, the following regulations apply:

The following regulations shall continue and be in effect on December 2, 2020, beginning at 8:00A.M:

    1. For Retail businesses, including grocery stores, building supply stores, convenience stores, cigar shops, liquor stores or any other store that sells items to the public, the business owner or manager shall adopt and enforce the following measures:
      1. Employees shall wear a face covering, covering the mouth and nose, and shall be required to wear a face covering while on duty, and such face covering shall be cleaned or replaced at least daily.
      2. Customers shall wear a face covering, covering nose and mouth, while inside the retail business.
      3. Hand sanitizer shall be made available to all employees and shall be made available to customers at points of entry and exit, in or near the bathrooms, and at the cashier or payment stations.
      4. Retail businesses shall make all reasonable efforts to maintain 6 feet separation between customers (or parties of customers) at all times, including 6 feet separation while waiting in cashier or payment lines.
      5. Carts and baskets and all other surfaces that are contacted by customers during the course of providing services shall be sanitized after each customer’s use. All other high­ touch areas, including all door handles, shall be sanitized every two hours at a minimum.
      6. Retail Businesses shall post a sign notifying customers that a face covering is required prior to entering the business and shall monitor and enforce the face covering requirement. Business owners and managers are entitled to rely upon the representations of their customers, patrons and employees regarding whether or not they qualify for an exception from the face covering requirement.
    2. FOR ALL OTHER BUSINESSES OR ORGANIZATIONS, EXCEPT MANUFACTURING BUSINESSES, the owner or manager of the business shall require all persons who enter the premises to wear a face covering. Businesses shall post a sign notifying persons who enter that they are required to wear a face covering and shall monitor and enforce the face covering requirement. Business owners and managers are entitled to rely upon the representations of their customers, patrons and employees regarding whether or not they qualify for an exception from the face covering requirement.
    3. EXCEPTIONS TO THE FACE COVERING REQUIREMENTS: Face coverings do not apply to the following:
      1. Any individual who will not come in contact with any other individual (outside of their immediate household members) or who will be able to maintain strict social distancing of six (6) feet apart from any other individual (outside of immediate household);
      2. Any child under the age of eight; however, all children between the ages of two (2) and Seven (7) years old are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering.
      3. Any individual with a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering;
      4. Any individual who is consuming food or drinks;
      5. Any individual seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired;
      6. Any individual giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience; and
      7. Any individual temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes.
    1. Retail businesses, including grocery stores, building supply stores, convenience stores, cigar shops, liquor stores or any other store that sells items to the public shall adopt reasonable, good-faith measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including but not limited to, limiting the number of customers in their stores at one time in order to ensure compliance with strict social distancing protocols, and frequent cleaning of high-contact surfaces (such as retail counters, door handles, credit card machines). All of these businesses are encouraged to make hand sanitizer available to their customers upon entry of their stores.
      To the extent possible, all common areas where employees or customers are likely to congregate and interact shall be closed or strict social distancing protocols should be enforced (maintaining a minimum of 6 feet distance between individuals).
    2. Restaurants and bars shall continue to offer in-house (indoor or outdoor) dining subject to strict social distancing and updating floor plans to ensure at least six (6) feet of separation between each party/group and limiting party sizes to a maximum of ten (10) customers per table. Restaurants that do not serve alcohol may offer in-house dining to the public twenty-four (24) hours a day. Restaurants and bars are allowed to have live music. There shall be a minimum of twelve (12) feet of separation between the musicians and restaurant/bar customers. It shall be the responsibility of the restaurant and/or bar to maintain social distancing between customers while live music is being performed.
    3. Any business that sells alcohol for on-premises consumption or allows alcohol to be consumed on the premises, other than those under the jittisdiction of the MS Gaming Commission, shall not sell alcohol or allow cons umption on the premises between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. This includes restaurants, bars, BYOB, or other entertainment venues that sell or allow consumption of alcohol on the premises. The sale of alcohol in bars shall only be allowed to seated patrons. The businesses that sell alcohol or allow conswnption of alcohol on the premises must close by midnight.
    4. Salons, barber shops, spas, massage parlors, and other personal care and personal grooming facilities, tattoo parlors, and pet groomers shall operate subject to the following limitations:
      1. Every employee shall be required to wear a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, while on duty.
      2. All employees must wash hands between serving each customer, and more frequently if necessary. If appropriate for the service provided, gloves are recommended and should be discarded after each customer.
      3. Customers shall wear a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, while inside the facility except when receiving a service that otherwise could not be provided while wearing a face covering;
      4. The number of customers inside the facility shall be limited to ensure a minimum of six (6) feet separation between persons not in the same household; and
      5. Customers shall be screened for illness prior to entry into the facility.
    5. Fitness centers and exercise gyms shall continue to operate pursuant to the limitations in the Proclamation effective May 11, 2020, and amended effective June 15, 2020, with 75% maximum capacity.
    6. Dance studios, Libraries and museums, movie theaters and auditoriums, indoor recreation and places of amusement, outdoor recreation activities and places of amusement shall ensure strict social distancing of a minimum of  six  (6) feet separation  between  persons not in the same household.
    7. Outdoor sports complexes and multi-field facilities shall continue to operate subject to the following regulations:
      1. The number of fans around the field shall be limited to ensure a minimum of six feet of separation between persons not in, the same household.
      2. Concession stands may be  open  subject  to  the  following  limitations:  (i) employees/ volunteers operating the concession stand that come into direct contact with customers shall be provided a cloth mask and required to wear the mask while on duty; (ii) social distancing (of a minimum of s ix feet) shall be observed by customers waiting in line at the concession stand; (iii) customers/guests are not permitted to congregate in the area of the concession stand; and (iv) before beginning their work shift, all concession stand employees shall be screened for any symptoms of COVID-19. “Grab and go” food and beverage services are strongly encouraged, and condiments shall be offered only as single-serve condiments.
      3. Prominent signage shall be posted at all points of entry mandating that attendees shall maintain a minimum of six (6) feet of separation from all persons not in their household, and that attendees shall not enter the venue if they display any symptoms of COVID-19.
      4. Fans are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering, covering their nose and mouth, while attending games.
      5. Every league, tournament, event or facility shall have a dedicated Safety Officer to ensure that all elements of social distancing are enforced. The Safety Officer shall have sufficient staff to ensure that strict social distancing is observed by all players, coaches and fans at all times.
      6. Reception halls and conference centers: Reception halls and conference centers shall ensure strict social distancing of a minimum of six (6) feet separation between persons not in the same household. For seated diruiers only, there shall be six (6) feet between tables and a maximum of ten (10) at each table with strict social distancing.
    1. GROUP GATHERINGS: Unless specifically mentioned in another section, all persons in social gathering/activities shall maintain social distancing of a minimum of 6 feet distance between individuals not in the same household. If indoors, a face covering is required if persons are not able to maintain a minimum of six (6) feet separation.
    2. RELIGIOUS SERVICES: Places of worship are encouraged to follow the Safe Worship Guidelines adopted on May 20, 2020. All persons present are to wear masks. I1is additionally recommended that a list of all attendees be kept. At all times, social distancing and sanitizing or washing hands should be practiced.
    3. FUNERALS: Funerals are encouraged to be grave side services. Funeral services may be held at a Church or funeral home at 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., as long as there is room for social distancing, or held at the City Auditorium at 10:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. All persons must wear a face covering at all funerals. Upon proof of death due to COVID-19, the cost for the City Auditorium for the funeral shall be one -half (1/2) of the regular auditorium fee.
    4. JUVENILE CURFEW: In order to decrease juvenile gatherings and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among juveniles, preserve the resources of the Vicksburg Police Department, and to keep good order, a curfew will be in place for juveniles 17 and under from 7:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. Juveniles should not be on the public streets during this time unless:
      1. the juvenile is traveling to or from work;
      2. the juvenile is with a parent or responsible guardian;
      3. the juvenile is going to or corning from a legitimate school function;
      4. the juvenile is going to or coming from an organized youth sport activity.
    1. Daily screening of employees shall include the following questions, and any employee answering any question in the affirmative shall be sent home:
      1. Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
      2. Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?
      3. Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
      4. Have you had new loss oftaste or smell?
      5. Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?
    2. All employees shall be required to report any symptoms of COVID-19 to their supervisor, and any employee who exhibits any of the symptoms of COVID-19 during their shift shall be sent home immediately and advised to consult with their physician.
    3. All employees shall be provided training regarding minimizing the spread of COVID- 19, including reinforcement of proper sanitation, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, and using PPE.
    4. Break rooms shall be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and the number of employees in the break room shall be limited to allow for strict social distancing (a minimum of six feet between employees and no gathering of more than ten employees).
    5. Appropriate PPE shall be worn by all employees based on their duties and responsibilities. Every employee who comes into direct contact with customers shall be provided a face covering, covering the nose and mouth, and shall be required to wear the face covering while on duty. Such face coverings shall be cleaned or changed at least daily.
    6. Signage shall be posted at each entrance stating no customer with a fever or other symptom of COVID-19 is permitted jn the business.
    7. All high-touch areas, including all door handles shall be sanitized frequently and hand sanitizer available at points of entry and exit.

Individual violations of the face covering regulations will be subject to misdemeanor prosecution pursuant to Sec. 45-17-9 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, Sec. 33-15-7 and Sec. 1-9 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Vicksburg and will be as follows:

  1. 1st offense – warning
  2. 2nd offense – $100.00 fine
  3. 3rd offense and up – $300.00 fine per each separate violation

Violation of this EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION will be subject to misdemeanor prosecution pursuant to Sec. 45-17-9 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, Sec. 33-15-7 and Sec. 1-9 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Vicksburg, including a fine of up to $1,000.00 and 90 days in jail.


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