Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal says preparation is imperative for when next pandemic hits:
When you stop and allow it to sink in, the scope of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is simply staggering.
Striking in the waning days of World War I, the virus sickened 500 million people around the world and killed 50 million, as the Daily Journal’s Michaela Gibson Morris reported in a story reflecting upon the 100th anniversary of the devastating outbreak.
The 1918 pandemic killed an estimated 675,000 Americans. To put its impact in perspective:
HIV killed 448,060 Americans between 1981 and 2000.
World War II killed 418,500 Americans.
The 1968 H3N2 flu pandemic killed 100,000 Americans.
The 2017-18 flu outbreak killed 80,000 to 90,000 Americans.
A century after the outbreak, it’s important to be knowledgeable about a global event that caused so much havoc. It’s also important to take and use any lessons that are still applicable today.
That starts with taking the flu seriously. Even with advances in modern medicine, the world remains vulnerable — particularly in a tightly connected society in which it is much more conducive for a disease to spread.
National and international public health agencies put a lot of effort into monitoring seasonal flu outbreaks and watching for the emergence of new flu viruses that could spark a pandemic.
Flu shots can help against seasonal flu outbreaks by both reducing the risk of getting infected and reducing the severity of the sickness if one does get infected.
By its definition, however, a pandemic flu involves a new strain of the virus that the population has little or no immunity against. In such a case, the flu shot won’t be much help; at least not immediately.
That’s when healthy habits and an understanding of how the flu spreads can help slow its momentum.
People with the flu can spread it to others from about six feet away, which is why it is so important for those who are sick to stay home. Practicing good cough etiquette by coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue also helps. Washing your hands when you get home from a public place is a smart strategy, too.
“There needs to be an ongoing education about how people can protect themselves,” said Dr. Bhagyashiri Navalkele, infectious disease specialist at University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Public health experts warn that it’s not a question of if a pandemic flu will come again, it’s when.
The more prepared we can be, the better we can mitigate its impact.
The Commercial Dispatch on the Nov. 6 election:
Much of Wednesday’s attention will be focused on the winners of Tuesday’s general election and the unfinished business that still awaits in those races requiring a runoff to determine the winner on Nov. 27.
Some races were run-aways, some were too close to call.
But there is one group of winners whose performance should not be ignored: The voters.
Throughout the state and nation turnout was high.
The Golden Triangle was no exception. In some cases, in fact, the turnout was very good, especially compared to the June primary and previous midterm elections. In Clay County, 56.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots Tuesday. In Oktibbeha County, the turnout was 53 percent and may go as high as 55.6 percent when all the absentee and provisional votes are counted, said circuit clerk Tony Rook. In Lowndes County the turnout was 49.1 percent while 44.2 percent of registered Noxubee County voters went to the polls Tuesday after just 4 percent of voters went to polls in June.
Compared to the June primaries, when turnout in the Golden Triangle ranged from that 4 percent in Noxubee County to 15 percent Oktibbeha County, the improvement in turnout was better than anyone dared to imagine.
Ideally, the turnout would be close to 100 percent. Realistically, turnouts approaching 50 percent are good. ...
The stakes were high — both U.S. Senate seats were on the ballot throughout the Golden Triangle while a U.S. House seat was up for grabs in parts of the area. ...
Individually, voters may be disappointed or pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
But collectively, Tuesday was an unqualified success. Government works best when it is supported by an active, informed public.
What we saw Tuesday was a positive step in that direction.
We salute all of the candidates who ran for office, the county employees and volunteers who helped stage the election and, most of all, the voters, who exercised their right and duty by going to the polls.
Let’s hope Tuesday’s turnout becomes a momentum-builder for all future elections, including the Nov. 27 runoffs.
The Greenwood Commonwealth on the academic achievement of Mississippi’s students:
Mississippi has made progress toward catching up with the rest of the nation in the academic achievement of its students.
According to a report released this week, Mississippi over the past 12 years has shown more improvement in math and reading scores on a respected national test than the U.S. average.
State education leaders credit tougher standards, a focus on literacy in the early grades and greater professional support for teachers for the results.
That’s the good news.
The bad is there is still a long way to go to completely closing the achievement gap. In fourth grade, if Mississippi can keep up its torrid pace, it will still take roughly another 15 years to match the national average. For eighth-graders, it will take 44 years in math and 120 years in reading. Thus, while it’s good to celebrate the momentum, it’s important to understand the mountain has still been only partially climbed.