The Mississippi State Department of Health updated their numbers on Friday, revealing that 5,048 new cases of COVID-19 infection have been reported in the state, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began.
The department also confirmed 54 new deaths related to COVID-19. While 22 of these deaths occurred between April 29 and August 14, an alarming 32 deaths occurred between August 8 and August 19.
This surge in numbers prompted action from the Mississippi State Health Officer, who issued an order on Friday requiring those with COVID-19 to isolate at home or face a fine, imprisonment, or both.
As noted in his order, failing or refusing to obey a lawful order from the health officer is a misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $500, imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. When a life-threatening disease, such as COVID-19, is involved, the fine can go up to $5,000 and the period of incarceration can be up to 5 years.
The order specifies that individuals are required to remain in their homes for 10 days from the onset of illness, or in the case of asymptomatic individuals, for 10 days from the date of a positive test. While at home, the order details that visitors should not be allowed, and individuals should stay away from other household members and use a separate bathroom, if possible.
The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday issued a much-anticipated ruling that strikes down the Medical marijuana program enshrined in the state constitution by voters in November.
The ruling also voids — for now — the state’s ballot initiative process that allows voters to take matters in hand and pass constitutional amendments. The court ruled that the state’s ballot initiative process is “unworkable and inoperative” until lawmakers and voters fix state law and the constitution.
With six of the nine state justices agreeing, the court wrote, “We grant the petition, reverse the Secretary of State’s certification of initiative 65 and hold that any subsequent proceedings on it are void.”
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler filed a Supreme Court challenge to Initiative 65 just days before voters approved it on Nov. 3. Butler argued that Mississippi’s ballot initiative process is constitutionally flawed and Initiative 65 was not legally before voters. She said a provision requiring an equal number of signatures from Mississippi’s five congressional districts could not be met, because Mississippi has only had four districts for two decades.
Besides derailing the medical marijuana program, the ruling also jeopardizes six pending ballot initiatives, including one to expand Medicaid and others to reinstate the state’s 1890 state flag, allow early voting and to approve recreational marijuana use. The ruling also could open to challenge two constitutional amendments that voters have passed since they were allowed to do so in 1992, one limiting eminent domain powers over government to take private land and one requiring a government-issued ID to vote.
Reminder: People are still sentenced to life in prison for marijuana possession. With so many states choosing to legalize marijuana, it’s easy to forget how draconian the penalties for possession can still be. Case in point: The Mississippi Court of Appeals just upheld a life sentence for 38-year-old Allen Russell for being in possession of about one and a half ounces of the drug.
Russell was sentenced in 2019, after being convicted for having 1.55 ounces (or about 44 grams) of marijuana. On appeal, Russell’s lawyers argued that his life sentence amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment and is grossly disproportionate.”
In general, “possession of between 30 and 250 grams is a felony punishable by a maximum of 3 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $3,000” in Mississippi, according to the drug policy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
But this sentence can increase drastically if a person has previous felony convictions.
Today in “those who surrender their liberty for security” news…
The Jackson, Mississippi police department is piloting a 45 day program that allows them to live stream private security cameras, including Amazon Ring cameras, at the residences of its citizens.
It’s no surprise that Amazon’s Ring cameras were the only brand named for the pilot program, as EFF pointed out, since they have over 1,000 partnerships with local police departments.
The program allows Ring owners to patch their camera streams to a “Real Time Crime Center” – i.e. a dispatcher on desk duty whose new favorite way of passing the time is to watch you bring out your garbage twice a week in a bathrobe.
While the pilot program is supposedly “opt-in” only, meaning residents have to volunteer to be a part of it, it is an obvious step in the wrong direction of mass privacy invasion without a warrant.
AMississippi county coroner said his state’s death count from coronavirus could be incorrect, telling residents that possible misreporting has led to “unnecessary fear in the public.”
Joshua Pounder, the coroner for DeSoto County in northwest Mississippi, wrote on his Facebook page Thursday night a breakdown of all causes of death in the county in July. He said he felt compelled to act because of the “many facebook google experts and politicians with politically driven agendas driven by money reporting information that is twisted and false to the public.”
The post, which has since garnered nearly 3,000 shares, described what Pounder called an “average month in Desoto county,” despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The coroner’s office recently completed reports for 144 deaths in July, Pounder wrote.
Pounder attributed the highest number of deaths to heart conditions, lung or vascular diseases and strokes, with 67 reported deaths. Pounder wrote that cancer was the second-highest, causing 30 reported deaths in the county.
Of the 11 causes of death Pounder listed, coronavirus was not among them. Instead, the 24 DeSoto County residents who had a positive COVID-19 test at the time of their death were included in the count of total deaths and attributed to causes other than the novel coronavirus, Pounder said.