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Vicksburg signs historic 20-year deal with American Cruise Lines



American Cruise Lines America (photo from American Cruise Lines)

The City of Vicksburg has signed a 20-year agreement with American Cruise Lines in which the company will make a financial contribution to the city and improve and beautify the docking facility, reports Travel Pulse.

American will pay the city a $2 per-passenger fee and make a minimum $200,000 investment in the docks, and the line will receive priority docking for its ships on the Vicksburg riverfront.

“American Cruise Lines has a long history on the Mississippi River, and I’m pleased to have formalized this agreement which will enhance one of our city’s main entryways,” Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. told Travel Pulse.

“For the first time in Vicksburg’s history, a private company has agreed to improve our waterfront at no cost to taxpayers in exchange for exclusive docking space,” the mayor said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

American Cruise Lines’ ships have docked at Vicksburg for many years, but this is the first agreement of its kind between Vicksburg and the line.

“American Cruise Lines is thrilled to have reached a deal with Vicksburg that will keep us contributing to the city’s economy in even more visible ways,” said Charles B. Robertson, President and CEO of American Cruise Lines. “Through Mayor Flaggs’ foresight and drive, our boats will be in as often as four times per week and will bring thousands of tourists to the city.”

In addition to the passenger fees and investment in the waterfront, American will provide shuttle services for its guests, transporting them throughout the community.

American is the country’s largest cruise line with a fleet of 13 small, U.S.-built ships. The line has doubled its capacity on the Mississippi in the past two years, with four ships cruising the river in 2020, and more new ships coming in 2021 and beyond.

The company operates more than 10 Mississippi River itineraries from February to December each year.


Thomas Hudson named president of Jackson State University



Thomas Hudson (photo courtesy IHL)

Jackson State University officially has a new president.

The board of trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning named Jackson State University Acting President Thomas Hudson as president of the university at its meeting held Thursday in Jackson. Hudson was named acting president earlier this year.

“As a Jackson State University alumnus, I am extremely pleased that we have identified one of our own to serve as president,” said Dr. Steven Cunningham, a member of the board of trustees, in a statement. “We have witnessed the great strides he has made over the past nine months and have full confidence that he will continue to demonstrate the great love he has for this university by providing outstanding leadership for the students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

As acting president, Hudson has provided leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and the university’s Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges reaffirmation process. He has also helped to improve the university’s financial position.

“Naming Thomas Hudson as president provides much-needed stability in leadership at the institution,” said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., commissioner of higher education. “He has done an excellent job leading the university during an extraordinarily difficult time. I am pleased to continue working with him to advance Jackson State University and the university system.”

As special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer, Hudson served on the executive cabinet and provided guidance to senior leadership on all topics related to the university’s future course and trajectory. With the Division of Human Resources and Office of General Counsel under his purview, Hudson oversaw institutional EEO and Title IX implementation and collaborated with other executive administrators on matters of curriculum, guidelines and practices.

“I am extremely appreciative and beyond humbled for the opportunity to continue to build upon Jackson State University’s extraordinary legacy,” Hudson said. “I recognize that it is an honor to serve in a leadership role, but it is an extreme honor and privilege to serve my alma mater – Jackson State University and the community I grew up in.

“My focus remains the same and that is to ensure the success of our students, faculty and staff and the long-term viability of JSU. I would like to thank the IHL board of trustees for entrusting me to lead. I want to thank my wife, daughters, mother and all my family for their infinite love and support. I also want to thank JSU administrators, faculty, staff and alumni for their deep-rooted dedication to JSU and their immovable belief in the power of a JSU education.”

Hudson has been on staff at JSU since 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Jackson State University and a law degree from the University of Mississippi. Before joining the staff at Jackson State, Hudson founded his own law practice and served as an EEO specialist for the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA in Clinton.

Hudson and his wife, Phylandria, have two daughters.


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2.0 earthquake recorded in northern Mississippi Wednesday



(Image source: USGS)

Yalobusha County experienced a mild 2.0 earthquake early Thursday morning.

The quake, which was centered near Enid Lake and Water Valley and about 18 miles south of Oxford, was the third one recorded in Mississippi this year. Previous rumblers were recorded near Booneville and Tunica Lake.

It’s unlikely that anyone felt much with this quake as it occurred about 6.5 miles underground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At 2.0 on the Richter scale, an earthquake can be felt slightly by some people; however, they cause no damage to buildings.

Globally, about a million 2.0 to 2.9 quakes occur every year.

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1,395 new COVID-19 cases in Mississippi Thursday as hospitalizations rise sharply



Mississippi’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases continues to climb toward numbers seen in this summer’s surge. Thursday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported nearly 1,400 new cases. A steep rise in hospitalizations is accompanying the rise in new cases, threatening once again to overwhelm the state’s health care system.

The Magnolia State is certainly not alone in this new surge of cases and hospitalizations, which is being followed by a rise in deaths. The U.S. has officially reached a new and devastating milestone in the history of the pandemic, reporting more than 250,000 deaths since the start of the crisis. The cumulative number of U.S. cases is now well over 11 million, with an average of nearly 163,000 cases added daily. In all instances — cases, hospitalizations and deaths — the U.S. leads the world.

In Warren County, MSDH reported 11 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in the county to date is 1,681, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 1,395 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 138,791. The seven-day average of new cases is 1,161 per day, about 395 cases 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 Thursday that 19 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,619. 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 19 deaths MSDH reported Thursday, 18 occurred between Nov. 13 and Nov. 18 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Thursday
Attala 1
Covington 1
DeSoto 1
Greene 2
Hancock 1
Hinds 2
Jackson 1
Lafayette 1
Lauderdale 1
Lee 1
Monroe 1
Montgomery 2
Panola 1
Rankin 1
Winston 1

One additional COVID-19 related death occurred Oct. 1 in Tippah County and was identified from a death certificate report.

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. 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. Tuesday, Nov. 17, was 948, nearly 80% of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 821 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 127 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 207 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 96 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 84.1% of the cumulative 138,791 cases reported as of Thursday, Nov. 19.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Thursday, Oct. 29, was 1,566, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,510, or about 89.8% of the 1,681 cumulative cases reported as of Thursday, Nov. 19. The county has an estimated 115 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 19.5% Wednesday, 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 169 Thursday, an increase of 26. About 38.4%, or 1,389, 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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