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Breaking Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. CDT


Increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 cases in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is seeing a steady increase in the number of patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of the novel coronavirus. The Ministry of Health said on Thursday that as of Wednesday evening, 602 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases and 261 were hospitalized with suspected cases of the highly contagious virus. This represents an increase from the 490 confirmed cases and 186 suspected cases among those hospitalized on Saturday evening. The state has recorded at least 28,770 cases of the virus and nearly 1,100 deaths. State health official Dr. Thomas Dobbs implores people to avoid large gatherings over the July 4 weekend.


90 years later, prohibition officially ends in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state of Mississippi is officially ending prohibition. New legislation signed by Governor Tate Reeves allows the possession of alcohol in all 82 counties of Mississippi. It will take effect on January 1, 2021. Current law states that every county in Mississippi is a dry county. However, local governments can hold elections where residents can vote to authorize spirits if they wish. The new law will allow counties to do the opposite. All counties will automatically be wet, but residents can vote to be dry. There are now 29 dry counties in Mississippi.


Mississippi tightens its belt for new state budget year

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi government is expected to spend less in the new fiscal year than it did in the one just ended. Questions remain about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. A senior senator said most agencies will see cuts of around 3% to 5% for the year that began Wednesday. Lawmakers haven’t set a budget for the Department of Marine Resources because of a dispute over power generation money in the Gulf of Mexico. The 4th of July weekend is great for boating and fishing. Governor Tate Reeves says he is “shocked” that Marine Resources has no budget.


Inmate dies at central Mississippi jail; the autopsy is fixed

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — An autopsy will be performed on a deceased inmate at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. The state Department of Corrections said Craig Brown, 55, was found unconscious in his bed on Wednesday. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The department says no foul play is suspected in his death. Brown was sentenced to 12 years in prison in June 2019 for selling a controlled substance in Rankin County. He was at least the 50th Mississippi inmate to die since late December. Several detainees died in outbreaks of violence in late December and early January. The US Department of Justice announced in February that it was investigating Mississippi’s prison system.


Mississippi prohibits abortion due to race, gender and genetic issues

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has signed a law banning abortion based on race, gender, or genetic abnormalities in a fetus. It adds new limits in a state that already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the United States. Proponents say the new law would prevent abortion for Down syndrome or other conditions. Opponents say it interferes with private medical decisions in a state with an abortion clinic. An abortion rights group says nine states ban abortion because of the sex of the fetus, two ban it because of race, and two ban it because of a genetic abnormality.


Democrat Dortch quits Mississippi House to lead state’s ACLU

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Democratic member of the Mississippi House is stepping down and will become the new state director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Jarvis Dortch of Raymond has been serving since January 2016 in a Hinds County House District. He submitted a letter Thursday saying Wednesday was his last day in office. Dortch, 39, is African American. He says that when his grandparents were his age, they couldn’t enter the House chamber, let alone serve as representatives. Governor Tate Reeves will call a special election to fill that seat and other vacancies in the House and Senate.