Mississippi Edition


7/23/20 - Hospital System Under Stress | JPS Superintendent | Book Club: "Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe"

The continuing trend of high cases and hospitalizations keeps Mississippi’s health care system under stress.

Then, how the state’s second largest school system is preparing for the new school year.

Plus, in today’s Book Club, a real ghost town in Mississippi is the setting for “Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe.”

Segment 1:

Governor Tate Reeves is calling on hospitals to implement surge plans, to make room for coronavirus patients in their facilities. For the second consecutive day, the Mississippi Department of Health reported over 1,500 new cases of the coronavirus. High hospitalizations rates associated with the virus also continue to press the health care system. Governor Tate Reeves says the central region of the state only has two ICU beds available, which creates a real danger for anyone in need of critical medical care.

As the state inches closer to crisis state, Health Officer Dr. Dobbs is transparent about what will happen to the level of care if hospitals are pushed to that extent.

Segment 2:

Reaching every corner of the capital city, Jackson Public Schools is the state's second-largest school district. With over fifty school sites and nearly 24,000 scholars, the district has many factors to consider when preparing for the new school year. Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene says his team's plan is based on feedback from the community, and the health safety guidelines of public officials. 

Segment 3:

About 40 miles north of Meridian is a ghost town called Electric Mills. There’s not much left except some overgrown sidewalks and pillars. In today’s Book Club, author, Jo Watson Hackl, takes readers to a fictionalized version of Electric Mills in her adventure, “Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe.”

More Episodes


8/11/20 - Veto Override & Unemployment Benefits | Pediatric Cases Rise | Constitutionality of Executive Orders

The House overrides a budget bill veto and the Governor weighs in on President Trumps Executive Order on unemployment benefits.Then, over 97,000 pediatric cases of COVID-19 were reported during the second half of July.We examine the factors of pediatric transmission.Plus, President Trump issued a series of Executive Orders over the weekend, including a payroll tax deferment.But how constitutional are they?Segment 1:Mississippi Legislators are making their voices heard by overriding Governor Tate Reeves' veto of an education budget bill.Reeves said he vetoed parts of the bill because it changed a teacher pay bonus program. The House voted 109-7 in favor of the bill.The Senate, likewise, voted by a two-thirds margin to override the veto.Governor Reeves responded to the lawmakers' action yesterday during a press briefing.As mitigation efforts against the coronavirus continue, attention is also on the widespread unemployment caused by the pandemic.While the numbers have improved slightly in recent months, many Mississippians are still jobless.Exacerbating that condition is the expiration of the $600 federal supplement of unemployment benefits.With Congress deadlocked on a solution, President Trump issued an Executive Order under the Stafford Act to provide continued assistance.But, as Reeves explains, the added benefits could put undue strain on the state's Unemployment Security Trust Fund.Segment 2:Nationwide, over 97,000 pediatric cases were reported in the second half of July - setting the stage for an uncertain fall semester as school administrators plan for the pandemic.Dr. John Gaudet is the President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.He discusses the rapid increase in pediatric cases, and the factors that lead to transmission in older children.Segment 3:Congress is currently deadlocked in negotiations for pandemic relief bill.Democrats are reportedly seeking a three trillion dollar package while Republican leaders want to cap the bill at one trillion.While talks stall, President Donald Trump is using the power of the Executive Order to present relief options - including a continuation of the federal unemployment supplement and a payroll tax deferment.Matt Steffey, Professor at Mississippi College School of Law answers the fundamental question: are they constitutional?

8/10/20 - Lawmakers Plan to Return | Hospital Surge | Testing in Holmes County

Lawmakers return to the capital to address the Governor’s education budget bill veto and other matters.Then, nearly two weeks after soaring highs in COVID-19 case numbers, lagging indicators like hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are catching up to the hospital system. We hear how the the state’s only Tier One trauma hospital is preparing.Plus, the CDC and Health Department visit Holmes County for a widespread community testing initiative.Segment 1:Lawmakers are expected to return to the Mississippi capitol today to handle some unfinishedbusiness. The legislature adjourned early last month, sending a number of bills to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves for signature.Reeves would end up vetoing some of them, including the education budget bill - now at the center of a lawsuit between lawmakers and the Governor.Leaders reserved six days of the regular session to return- in order to appropriate the remainder of the CARES Act funds. But soon after dismissing, at least 40 capital personnel tested positive for COVID-19, creating uncertainty as to when members would be able to return to address the series of vetoes.Reeves has said he would not call the legislature back into session until he feels it is safe. Robert Johnson is the Democratic Leader in the House. He tells our Desare Frazier the lawmakers' return is necessary right now.Segment 2:Mississippi’s seven-day rolling average of coronavirus infections is trending down following a month of the state’s highest rates of community transmission. But the data suggests the worst could still be yet to come for those lagging indicators like hospitalizations, ICU occupancy, and ventilator utilization - all of which remain at or near their highest levels. Dr. LouAnn Woodward is the Vice Chancellor of Health Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center - the state’s sole Tier I trauma facility. She tells our Michael Guidry those record high case numbers from two weeks ago are just starting to manifest in the hospital data.Segment 3:Holmes County is a major hotspot for the coronavirus in Mississippi, despite having a relatively small population.Now, a partnership between the Mississippi Department of Health, CDC, National Guard and University of Mississippi Medical Center is working to test every resident in the town of Lexington for the coronavirus. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says he hopes this focused testing initiative can slow the spread of the virus by catching asymptomatic carriers.

8/7/20 - ICE Raid Executives Indicted | Qualified Immunity Opinion | Millsaps AD Aaron Pelch

One year after the immigration raids that shook Mississippi communities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issues indictments against processing plant management.Then, a Mississippi judge’s opinion on qualified immunity scrutinizes a practice that has shielded law enforcement officers.Plus, member institutions of the NCAA’s Division III won’t be playing sports this fall. We talk to the A.D. of one of Mississippi’s D-3 schools.Segment 1:One year ago today, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided seven central Mississippi chicken processing plants, detaining over 600 undocumented workers.It was the largest single-state raid in American history.Now, the U.S. Attorney's office is holding management of those plants accountable through indictments against four plant executives.MPB's Desare Frazier talks with U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.Segment 2:"Clarence Jamison wasn't jaywalking.He wasn't outside playing with a toy gun. He didn't look like a "suspicious person".He wasn't suspected of "selling loose, untaxed cigarettes".He wasn't suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill." Those are the first five lines of U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves' opinion upholding a claim of qualified immunity for officer Nick McClendon. Reeves gives 19 different examples of what Jamison, a Black man, wasn't doing when he was pulled over by McClendon - each example invoking the memory of other Black men and women whose lives were ended through excessive police force.Reeves further opined the "qualified immunity" doctrine operates like absolute immunity in real life.But based on legal precedent, Reeves was compelled to uphold the doctrine.Jarvis Dortch is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Chapter of the ACLU.He shares his thoughts on Reeve's opinion with our Kobee Vance.Segment 3:College sports in the NCAA's two lower levels won't take place this fall.On Wednesday the Presidents Councils for the governing body's Divisions II and III announced they would cancel fall championships for the 2020-2021 seasons.This decision means Mississippi's member schools like Mississippi College, Delta State, and Belhaven will have to re-imagine what their sports calendars will look like as they adjust plans to potentially play fall sports in the spring. Aaron Pelch is the Athletic Director of Millsaps College, a NCAA D-3 school.He says schools are awaiting guidance from the NCAA regarding what possibilities exist for fall sports.He shares his plans and reaction to the decision with us.