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Mississippi sues Corps of Engineers and River Commission over flood control measures

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Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced Monday that his office has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission.

The basis for the suit is the repeated opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway and failure to make use of the Morganza Spillway as a flood control measure. It is the second lawsuit filed in less than a week for similar flood control issues.

Hosemann filed the suit on behalf of the citizens on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and all people in Mississippi, alleging an illegal release of water into the Mississippi Sound.

“As State Land Commissioner and trustee of the Public Trust Lands, it is my duty to protect Mississippi’s land, its water and its resources,” Hosemann said in a statement. “The infiltration of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound as a result of solely opening the Bonnet Carré caused devastating effects across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In addition, this lawsuit does not address the monetary loss to the State and the Coast. This could be addressed in future litigation.”

The allegations in the complaint stem from the unprecedented ecological and economic devastation on the Mississippi Sound as a result of the diversion of freshwater from the Mississippi River into the Sound from the repeated opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway this year.

The lawsuit specifically addresses the request for a temporary injunction to order the USACE to operate the Bonnet Carré Spillway in conjunction with the Morganza Spillway and to mitigate damage to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The lawsuit further alleges the action was taken without the benefit of an up-to-date environmental impact statement, giving no consideration of the environmental impact to the Mississippi Sound and Mississippi’s Public Trust Tidelands. As part of the relief sought, Mississippi has asked the court to compel the defendants to perform a supplemental environmental-impact statement and to use the Morganza Spillway to mitigate the freshwater inundation of the Mississippi Sound in the future.

In July, Hosemann asked the USACE and the MRC to conduct an immediate study of the operating manuals and procedures for both the Morganza Floodway and the Bonnet Carré Spillway and to include as part of the study, the ecological effects and economic impacts of freshwater intrusion into the Mississippi Sound as a result of the current operating procedures.

In August, Hosemann requested additional modeling of the opening of the Morganza Floodway in varying amounts and later in the month testified before the Mississippi River Commission on the annual low-water inspection trip in Vicksburg where he reiterated all of these requests. Additionally, Hosemann and the Department of Marine Resources requested an environmental impact study.

The Bonnet Carré Spillway has been opened five times since 2011 and was opened twice this year for a total of 123 days, while the Morganza Floodway has been opened twice – in 1973 and 2011. The freshwater intrusion into the Mississippi Sound from the Bonnet Carré Spillway openings negatively impacted Mississippi’s oyster, shrimp, blue crab and finfish harvests, and caused devastating losses to commercial fisherman, charter boat operators and the tourism industry, Hosemann said.

 

COVID-19

Warren County reports 35 new COVID-19 cases Saturday; Mississippi reports 1,942

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New COVID-19 cases continued in double digits Saturday in Warren County with 35 cases reported.

Mississippi is reporting the 11th consecutive day of reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day, with three days of reporting more than 2,000 new cases. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is now over 1,900 per day, with 13,518 new cases reported in the last week. The highest seven-day average in July was around 1,360 for the week ending July 30.

Hospitalizations are nearing the July high of around 1,250. Unlike the July surge, however, more patients are hospitalized with confirmed cases than ever before in the state.

Nationally, the cumulative cases in the U.S. have soared to over 14.5 million. At least 2,637 people died of the virus Friday and 229,077 new cases were reported. While some progress in lowering case numbers has been seen in the Midwest recently, slowing the rate of increase across the nation, cases continue to surge almost everywhere else in the country. As expected, however, the rate of deaths continues to increase steeply, with a 42% increase just in the past two weeks. The number of people hospitalized across the nation now exceeds 101,000.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 35 new COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,930, and the county’s death toll is 59. The seven-day average of new cases in the county has risen to 23.1, more than four times higher than in early November when the average was about five cases per day.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,942 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 163,458. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,931.1 per day, about 1,174 cases higher 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 at the height of the last surge 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 Saturday that 33 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,949. 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 33 deaths MSDH reported Saturday, 24 occurred between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Alcorn 2
Attala 1
Coahoma 2
Covington 2
Desoto 1
Forrest 2
Hinds 1
Lauderdale 1
Leflore 1
Madison 1
Marion 2
Panola 1
Pearl River 1
Pontotoc 1
Rankin 1
Winston 3
Yalobusha 1

An additional nine COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Oct. 22 and Nov. 25 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Calhoun 1
Chickasaw 1
Clarke 1
Desoto 1
Hancock 1
Harrison 1
Jones 1
Lafayette 1
Tishomingo 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. 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. Thursday, Dec. 3, was 1,188, 99% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 1,068 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 120 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 276 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 156 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 78.8% of the cumulative 163,458 cases reported as of Saturday, Dec. 5.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Nov. 14, was 1,649, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,590, or about 82.4% of the 1,930 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Dec. 5. The county has an estimated 281 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 27.2% Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 10.3%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is 200 Saturday, an increase of six since Friday. About 37.5%, or 1,482, of the state’s total deaths were people in long-term care facilities. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in LTC facilities is 8,015, less than 5% of the state’s total cases.

A total of 27 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. 22.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Events

Reindeer Run 5k brings out crowds on Catfish Row

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(photo by Keith Phillips)

Runners and their supporters braved the cold Saturday morning for the annual Reindeer Run 5k.

The event, which began at 8 a.m., is in support of Paws Rescue, a Vicksburg no-kill animal shelter.

The run began and ended at Catfish Row next to LD’s Kitchen, and was followed by a pet parade.

Organizers helped the run start off smoothly, and they had plenty of assistance from the Vicksburg Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s office.

(photo by Keith Phillips)

These competitors are having fun with their masks. (photo by Keith Phillips)

(photo by Keith Phillips)

Some runners came dressed up in the spirit of the season. (photo by Keith Phillips)

Santa and Mrs. Claus confer with the the reindeer. (photo by Keith Phillips)

(photo by Keith Phillips)

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Search on the Mississippi enters third day; volunteers asked to coordinate with law enforcement

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Search efforts are being coordinated over a wide area. (photo by Thomas Parker)

Search efforts have entered a third day for two young men missing on the Mississippi River near LeTourneau Landing.

The young men, Gunner Palmer, 16, from Copiah County, and Zeb Hughes, 21, of Wesson, Mississippi, went out on a boat Thursday with their dog to find a good spot for duck hunting near Davis Island. They have not been heard from since Thursday.

Multiple police and fire agencies in the region have responded to a request for assistance for overland search and rescue, and the effort is being coordinated over a large search area.

Private individuals who are volunteering to search must also coordinate with law enforcement to ensure public safety and to preserve any evidence. Volunteers wishing to assist should coordinate through the incident command located south of LeTourneau Landing or contact Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs at 601-218-9911.

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Vicksburg
57°
Sunny
6:50am4:58pm CST
Feels like: 57°F
Wind: 1mph SW
Humidity: 48%
Pressure: 30.16"Hg
UV index: 2
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59/36°F
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59/37°F

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