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Our top stories of the year



Kris George rode out the storm in his truck and completely grasped how lucky he was to be alive. That piece of wood in his tire shows just how dangerous things were.

What a year it was in the South Delta.

We’ve had some really big stories and events in 2019, and we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the year that was and highlight some of our top stories of the year.

Let’s start with No. 5 and work our way up to number one:

No. 5 was the story of Victoria Darden and the Finish the Pumps team being denied a booth at the Mississippi Wildlife Foundation’s annual Extravaganza at the beginning of August. That decision created a firestorm of social media attention, and it led to several vendors pulling out of the event. As a result, the future of the Extravaganza is in question. The Finish the Pumps team, though, received national attention as a result of this story. The hashtag #finishthepumps became well known across social media, and Victoria Darden became a name synonymous with the Great Backwater Flood of 2019. U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith made the pump project her cause, and the federal budget for 2020 includes language and funds that indicate the pumps may actually be installed to finish a project nearly 40 years in the making.

Victoria Darden at Flood Fest 2019, August 17.

We are particularly proud of breaking this story and the impact it had on helping those affected by the Great Backwater Flood of 2019.

No. 4

This story was all about a picture. Jacob’s Ladder Learning Center had their annual prom, and one man stole the show. Sharp dressed man Matt McKay and his Spiderman suit dominated, making him a viral sensation. The reach on this story included hundreds of comments congratulating Matt, his family and the good people at Jacob’s Ladder.

Matt McKay, sharp dressed man.The power of love, positive thinking and a fine looking man in a suit.

No. 3

The No. 3 story was about a manhunt in Warren County.  Two fugitives rammed a deputy’s patrol car, fled from him and took refuge in the woods near the Timberlane sub-division in southern Warren County, prompting a manhunt. The Vicksburg Daily News was on scene to do a report on the story. We were at least a quarter mile from where the main manhunt was taking place doing our reporting when the fugitives walked out of the woods directly into the view of our camera. Then, they disappeared again. They were captured the next day after eluding law enforcement throughout the night.

A captured fugitive.

No. 2

The second most viewed story of the year was about the tornado that struck Vicksburg on April 13, 2019. The Vicksburg Daily News was reporting on the storm and its intensity from the south parking garage downtown when the funnel cloud formed and touched down. We went to the scene of the damage and were the first to report from there. Our video of the damage near Kroger was our one of our most viewed videos ever.

Three people, one of them an infant, survived the tornado in this small bathroom. When the ceiling flew away and water started pouring in, they moved to another location.

No. 1

The number one story of the year is …coming soon!




Butler named Community MVP by NFL Players Association



Tennessee Titan Malcolm Butler (Photo by Chipermc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Vicksburg native and Tennessee Titan Malcolm Butler continues his generous charitable giving in communities where he has lived and worked. In recognition, he was named the Community MVP for week 11 by the NFL Players Association.

Butler posted the news Wednesday on Facebook.

Butler graciously helped provide people in Nashville, Tennessee, with free COVID-19 testing and grocery gift cards, feeding about 600 families. He helped residents of his hometown, Vicksburg, by giving out grocery cards as well, while also donating $5,000 to the University of West Alabama’s hunger/pandemic fund relief. UWA is his alma mater.

The NFLPA thanked Butler on Twitter for his donation.

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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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