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Teachers gathering signatures for open letter to Gov. Reeves

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(Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

As Mississippi teachers rallied at the state Capitol Friday in opposition to reopening of schools i the face of ever-worsening COVID-19 statistics, organizers asked them to add their signatures to an open letter to Gov. Tate Reeves.

Teachers unable to attend the rally can “sign” the letter online.

Mississippi Teachers Unite organized Friday’s event.

Governor Reeves:

The highest priority of any teacher is to ensure the safety of the children under his or her care. We, as Mississippi teachers, are writing to express our concerns regarding the safe return of students to school this fall and to request that all necessary measures be taken to ensure that a return to the classroom provides both a safe environment and effective, consistent instruction.

To this end, we respectfully ask that the opening of all Mississippi K-12 schools be delayed until at least after Labor Day in order to give districts (especially those with fewer economic resources) time to both order and receive the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) necessary to ensure a safe return to classrooms. As you know, there is a shortage of PPE nationwide and delays in shipping are common. This extra time would also allow districts time to develop more effective safety protocols and to receive technology resources for distance learning (should that become necessary again). Should we be required to return to distance learning, this extra time to acquire resources and develop strategies to address inequities such as internet access could be the difference between effective distance learning and inadequate learning opportunities for our students.

We further request that a return to on-site instruction be contingent upon Mississippi adequately meeting the CDC guidelines for re-opening. If we re-open before health professionals recommend, we run the risk of returning to school only to risk a resurgence of the COVID virus and an abrupt return to distance learning. Effective instruction requires consistency. Shifting between on-site instruction and distance learning repeatedly could seriously compromise the effectiveness of academic instruction.

We implore you to continue working with the legislature and the Mississippi Department of Education to make sure all districts have adequate time, funds, and advisory support to provide our students with a school year that provides relatively consistent, effective learning opportunities. Fully funding MAEP and appropriating additional funds for PPE and distance learning resources are key elements for developing efficient, effective safety procedures and instructional strategies. Mississippi has been making great strides in education, and we do not want to lose our progress to unsafe openings or inconsistent instruction.

As teachers who love students, we miss our kids and are anxious to be back in our classrooms. We would much prefer to be learning names, shaking hands with parents, engaging with kids in our classrooms and through other school activities, and seeing that spark of understanding that happens when something we’re teaching finally clicks in a student’s brain. However none of that happens without a sense of safety and security. Using distance learning as a vehicle for instruction may take away some of the rewarding classroom moments, but it would be selfish of us to put our students’ lives in danger to achieve a celebratory moment. Keeping our students and our community safe ensures that we and, more importantly, our students will have those moments of connection later and for the rest of our lives.

We thank you for your time and for your efforts to create a safer and better Mississippi for our students.

Sincerely,

Mississippi Teachers

COVID-19

Mississippi reports 1,212 new COVID-19 cases Saturday as U.S. sets new one-day high

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Mississippi’s cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 115,000 Saturday, with another day of more than 1,000 cases reported.

On Friday, the U.S. reported 83,757 new cases, a new one-day high, according to Johns Hopkins University. At the peak of the summer surge, the U.S. reported 77,362 new cases of COVID-19 on July 16, reports USA Today. Nearly every state in the union is reporting increased cases, and experts predict that this surge could be more deadly and last longer than the summer surge because the virus circulates easier in colder weather.

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported five new COVID-19 cases Saturday in Warren County and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,548, and the county’s death toll is 55.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,212 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 115,088. The seven-day average of new cases is 726, higher by 244 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 Saturday that 17 additional Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,255. 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.

Of the 17 deaths MSDH reported Saturday, 13 occurred between Oct. 19 and Oct. 23 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Saturday
Adams 1
Benton 1
Coahoma 1
Covington 1
Harrison 1
Leake 1
Lee 1
Monroe 1
Panola 1
Pontotoc 1
Tallahatchie 1
Wayne 1
Yazoo 1

Four COVID-19 related deaths reported Saturday occurred between Sept. 22 and Oct. 17 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Lauderdale 1
Madison 1
Pearl River 1
Prentiss 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23. 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. Thursday, Oct. 22, is 701, more than half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 597 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 104 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 158 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 70 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 84.9% of the cumulative 115,088 cases reported Saturday, Oct. 24.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Saturday, Oct. 3, was 1,428, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,373, or about 88.7% of the 1,548 cumulative cases reported as of Saturday, Oct. 24. The county has an estimated 120 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, Oct. 10, is 900,479 or about 30.3% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. Without an updated number of tests, it is impossible to accurately calculate Mississippi’s positivity rate (positive results to tests, seven-day average), however, the rate was 16.6% Thursday according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 5.8%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 133 Saturday. About 40.1%, or 1,304, 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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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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COVID-19

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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