Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. CDT


Mississippi withholds some health prep info about virus

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi residents are unlikely to find out how many ventilators are available in the state to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Health Department is not releasing information because the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, says people might “freak out” if they saw a sudden increase in demand for the machines. The Health Department said Thursday that Mississippi has at least 1,177 confirmed cases and 26 deaths from the virus. Gov. Tate Reeves has issued a stay-at-home order that takes effect Friday evening and runs until April 20. Unemployment claims rose sharply for the second week in a row.


Inmate dies after fight in privately run Mississippi prison

WOODVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi inmate has died after a fight with his cellmate in a privately run prison. David Young died Wednesday in a Jackson hospital after being flown there from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville. That's according to a news release Thursday from Management & Training Corporation. It said the other inmate is being treated at a hospital. An autopsy will be done on 42-year-old Young. He was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. Young was at least the 31st Mississippi inmate to die since late December. The Justice Department is investigating the state prison system.


Special election delayed to fill a Mississippi House seat

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A nonpartisan special election to fill a Mississippi House seat is being delayed by two months because of concerns about the coronavirus. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Thursday that June 23 is the new date for the election. It's in District 88 in parts of Jasper and Jones counties. If a runoff is needed, it will be July 14. The original date was April 21 with a May 12 runoff. Three candidates have qualified. Republican Rep. Ramona Blackledge of Laurel resigned Jan. 31. The freshman lawmaker said she had to choose between serving in the House and collecting her state retirement pay.


Columbus man killed by officer after chase in stolen vehicle

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A police chief in northeast Mississippi says a 19-year-old man has been shot to death by an officer after a chase in a stolen vehicle. Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant identified him as Austin Hines of Columbus. Investigators in Columbus and Lowndes County say deputies on Wednesday began chasing Hines, who was driving a stolen vehicle. Police assisted in the chase, and it ended when Hines wrecked the vehicle. He was shot after he got out of the vehicle. Police Chief Fred Shelton hasn't said who shot Hines, but one police officer was put on paid leave.


Body found in Big Black River was man missing for weeks

YAZOO CITY, Miss. (AP) — A body found in a river in central Mississippi has been identified as a man who had been missing since February. An autopsy will be done on 36-year-old Phillip Dunn. A fisherman called police Sunday after finding the body tangled in limbs in the Big Black River in Yazoo County. The sheriff says the case is being investigated as a possible homicide. Dunn's car was found abandoned in Yazoo County on Feb. 11 with blood in it.


Sentencing postponed indefinitely in pain cream fraud scheme

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Four people awaiting sentencing in a health care fraud scheme have had their hearings postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus. The Hattiesburg American reports Shahjahan Sultan, Thomas Studavant, Freda Covington and Fallon Page were scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday. Each faces up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution for a scheme involving pain creams and weight loss pills that bilked insurers out of more than $7 million. It's unclear when the four will be sentenced. Nonessential hearings in the Southern District of Mississippi were postponed as of March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.