Dothan Eagle on Gov. Kay Ivey’s response to the pandemic as coronavirus cases increase:

On June 30, Gov. Kay Ivey missed an opportunity to implement requirements that health officials say could save lives and possibly slow the rate of coronavirus infection in the state. Instead, she spent a good bit of time telling residents that it was important to social distance and wear a mask in public before extending a toothless “safer-at-home” suggestion until July 31.

Issuing a mandatory mask order would be difficult to enforce, she said. However, she apparently hasn’t considered the psychological effect an order might have. Many people will follow an authoritative mandate without considering the likelihood of repercussions from defying it.

It’s a disappointing failure of leadership that suggests state officials hope the trajectory of infection will reverse itself under the same mandate under which it has climbed alarmingly since Memorial Day. It makes no sense to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. In fact, some suggest that defines insanity.

On a somewhat more positive note, the dark cloud that 6.1% of the state’s workforce has seen building above July 31 now has a ray of light shining through. That’s the percentage of Alabama workers who are unemployed and face the cessation of unemployment benefits at the end of the month. For idled workers, another 13-week program for state unemployment will take effect, providing benefits for another quarter. The federal benefits will not apply unless Congress passes another relief measure.

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on a new Mississippi awaits, with the change of the state flag

Decades of discord over Mississippi’s state flag culminated in a climactic weekend of legislative action. Then, on Tuesday evening, in the few moments it took to affix his signature, Gov. Tate Reeves offered the final punctuation.

Today in Mississippi, there’s no longer an official state flag. The flags that remain at government buildings and other public properties will be coming down sometime within the next 15 days.

After that, a commission will be appointed. New flag designs will be considered. Voters will get a chance to have their say on the replacement. The earliest a new state flag can be adopted and hoisted again is sometime early next year when the Mississippi Legislature convenes its next regular session.

But let’s pause, briefly, to acknowledge how we got here. We have been vocal in our call for a new flag state, one that does not represent division. We celebrate that the now-former flag has been furled. That did not happen without a great deal of effort, however.

First, we must applaud and honor the Black citizens of Mississippi. They have called this state home even when that was not easy. Throughout the tyranny of slavery, the indignities and oppression of Jim Crow, the achievements and difficulties of the Civil Rights era, and the long process of building a new, harmonious society, our state has been better because of the Black Mississippians who have lived here in this place and have fought to make it better.

They did so for over a century as the state flew a banner which they could not claim as their own, and they fought for that banner to change even when such change seemed impossible. We cannot celebrate the achievements of the present or anticipate the possibilities of the future without a humble appreciation of those who paved the long road that brought us here.

A new Mississippi awaits, and there’s no one to build it except us.

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