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Warren County and City of Vicksburg employees pay homage to John Smith



(photo by David Day)

Warren County and City of Vicksburg employees came out to pay silent homage to former County Administrator John Smith on Tuesday morning.

Smith, who retired from his post after a long illness in December, died Friday, April 10.

Because it’s not possible to attend a funeral under the current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, people came to stand on the steps of the Warren County Courthouse to honor Smith as his funeral cortege passed by.

In his role as the county administrator, Smith touched the residents of the county “whether they knew it or not,” said Marcie Southerland, county and youth court judge.

“John was a behind-the-scenes public servant and on-the-front-lines public servant for every one of us in this community,” she said.

See our live, on-the-scene video on our Facebook page.


Flaggs expresses concerns about growing violence in Vicksburg



Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen, May 4, 2020. (Photo via VTV screenshot)

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. spoke on the recent violence in the city Tuesday at the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

The city recorded its 10th homicide of 2020 last week when 19-year-old A’Treio Markis Richards was murdered Friday, Nov. 6. Flaggs indicated that police were not trained to handle the types of violence seen lately in the city.

“The kind of violence that we are seeing in our community, the kind of shooting, the kind of killing, it cannot go unnoticed,” Flaggs said. “I am not satisfied.”

“You can’t stop a man from killing a man right in his face in front of six people (if) they’re determined to kill,” he added.

The mayor went on to say that the senseless violence he’s seeing now comes from “the absence of love and caring and respect for another human being,” he said, saying he is reaching out to the city’s preachers and the community for their assistance.

The mayor further urged Vicksburg residents to reach out and assist their loved ones.

“If you know you’ve got somebody who needs some mental help or (has) mental challenges, seek help,” Flaggs said. “If you know somebody who is always angry for no reason, seek help.”

“I’m not lecturing, I’m just frustrated,” he added, “… but I believe there’s hope.”

The hope, he indicated, comes from his belief that the community can come together to mitigate the violence.


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Mississippi’s new COVID-19 cases continue to rise with 933 reported Tuesday



The U.S. hit another record in new reported COVID-19 cases Monday, reporting at least 130,553 cases for a seven-day average of 116,448 cases per day, an increase of 64 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Another 745 new deaths were reported nationwide. This latest surge is concentrated in the upper Midwest, but few places in the U.S. are immune to it.

In Mississippi, the seven-day average of 947 new cases is has high as it was in early August, just after the peak in late July.

In Warren County, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported seven new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and no new deaths. The cumulative number of cases in Warren County to date is 1,625, and the county’s death toll is 56.

Statewide, MSDH reported 933 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total cumulative confirmed cases in Mississippi to 128,138. The seven-day average of new cases is 947, about 308 cases higher than a month ago and on par with numbers in 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.

Source: MSDH

MSDH reported Tuesday that 37 more Mississippians died of COVID-19 statewide. The cumulative number of deaths in the state is 3,480. The state’s rate of deaths to confirmed cases is about 2.7%.

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 37 deaths MSDH reported Tuesday, 25 occurred between Nov. 1 and Nov. 9 in the following counties:

County Deaths reported Tuesday
Adams 1
Benton 3
Bolivar 1
Desoto 1
Forrest 2
Harrison 2
Jackson 1
Jefferson Davis 1
Lamar 3
Lauderdale 2
Madison 1
Monroe 1
Pearl River 1
Pontotoc 1
Prentiss 1
Sunflower 1
Tippah 1
Wilkinson 1

Twelve COVID-19 related deaths occurred between Oct. 23 and Nov. 3 and were identified from death certificate reports.

County Deaths identified from death certificate reports
Harrison 3
Jones 1
Lauderdale 1
Lee 1
Lincoln 1
Madison 1
Newton 1
Pearl River 1
Simpson 1
Tate 1

New cases and deaths were reported to MSDH as of 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9. 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.

The number of Mississippians hospitalized for the virus as of 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, was 718, well over half of the late July peak of about 1,200. The number includes 618 with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 100 people with suspected but unconfirmed cases. Of those with confirmed infections, 190 were critically ill and in intensive care units and 76 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 111,430 through Sunday, Nov. 8. This figure is updated weekly. It represents about 87% of the cumulative 128,138 cases reported as of Tuesday, Nov. 10.

The number of cases in Warren County three weeks ago, Tuesday, Oct. 20, was 1,527, therefore the estimated number of people presumed recovered in the county is 1,471, or about 90.5% of the 1,625 cumulative cases reported as of Tuesday, Nov. 10. The county has an estimated 98 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. 7 (the latest statewide testing results reported by MSDH), is 1,105,638 or about 37.2% of the state’s 2.976 million residents. 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 14.7% Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The national rate is 8.3%, and 5% or lower indicates adequate testing.

The total number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities was 118 Tuesday. About 38.9%, or 1,352, 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 Oct. 25.

For additional information, visit the MSDH website.

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Miss Mississippi Asya Branch crowned Miss USA 2020



Asya Branch (VDN file photo)

Out of 51 beautiful, talented women, Mississippi’s own Asya Branch took home the title of Miss USA 2020 Monday evening, the first woman from Mississippi to do so.

This year’s pageant took place in Memphis, Tennessee, at the breathtaking Graceland estate. It is known as a place fit for a king, but tonight, it crowned a queen.

Branch is no stranger to the stage. She was crowned Miss Mississippi in 2018. During her reign she was a leading advocate for prison reform, a topic she knows about first hand.

Branch’s father was imprisoned. She has made it her mission to make sure today’s inmates have an easy transition back into society.

The Booneville native wowed the judges with her answer on gun laws, stating she grew up in a house with guns and confidently knows how to load and unload one. She stressed she does not believe we should ban firearms, but stricter restrictions need to be in place to purchase guns.

Branch also received a question about how divided our nation currently is. The 22-year-old African-American woman did not waiver in her answer.

“I think this is an issue of trust,” Branch said. “We’ve lost trust in the systems that seem to keep our country running, from the media to business to our government. And it’s all about restoring that trust and coming together and working together to heal and trust in these systems. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation we’re going to have to set a better example.”

Branch will go on to represent the United States in the Miss Universe Pageant. Miss Universe has not announced a date for the 2021 pageant, but it has been rumored to be some time from January to March.

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