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

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi to trace contacts of virus-positive cases

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi health officials say they will try to find people who've been near those testing positive for the coronavirus. Gov. Tate Reeves and the state health officer say the goal is to get exposed people to self-quarantine. Mississippi is seeing a sharp increase in claims for temporary unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders said Thursday that the legislative session remains on hold indefinitely. The state Health Department says Mississippi has more than 480 confirmed cases of the virus. Testing remains limited, so most people now spreading the virus may not know they've been infected.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MISSISSIPPI-SCHOOLS

Mississippi eases graduation and third-grade rules for virus

Mississippi's education leaders moved to ease the way for seniors to graduate and third graders to move on to fourth grade in the face of closed schools. The state Board of Education already voted last week to halt all state standardized tests and make schools keep their same A-to-F ratings as last year. High school students will earn graduation credits for incomplete courses, and seniors will be allowed to graduate if they meet other typical requirements. The board also agreed Thursday that third graders won’t have to pass a standardized test of reading skills and can advance to fourth grade if they meet other requirements.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-LEGAL QUESTIONS

Fears for civil rights mount amid fight against coronavirus

CHICAGO (AP) — Growing numbers of Americans say state and federal governments are starting to trample civil rights in the name of public health during the coronavirus outbreak. Those already making that case include a church-goer in New Hampshire who filed a lawsuit arguing that prohibitions against large gatherings violate her religious rights. Most civil libertarians are concerned but aren't yet sounding alarm bells. Public health lawyer Larry Gostin says measures to date aren't draconian. But he says he fears leaders could resort to increasingly harsh methods that cross constitutional bounds if the crisis drags on.

PREGNANT INMATE

Sheriff: Inmate pregnant after 'quickie' with another inmate

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — Authorities in Mississippi said a inmate is pregnant after she had a “quickie” with another inmate in jail. Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten says the pregnancy was confirmed by a nurse practitioner. Patten says trusted female inmates at the Adams County Jail were allowed to leave their cells to perform cleaning duties under supervision. The female inmate told investigators she was cleaning the stairwell, saw a male inmate in the laundry room and had sex with him, which she described as a “quickie." The woman said the sex was consensual. Patten said the woman has been at the jail for about a year on felony charges.

SEVERE WEATHER-SOUTH

Possible twister: Damage reports at Mississippi-Alabama line

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — A suspected tornado heavily damaged a store in northern Mississippi and other structures along the border with Alabama as a severe storm system crossed the Deep South. Preliminary damage reports from the National Weather Service showed the apparent tornado touched down Tuesday evening near the Mississippi town of Tishomingo. Tishomingo Police Chief Mike Kemp told broadcast outlet WTVA that some minor injuries were reported and a dollar store in the community sustained major damage. Severe weather watches were posted for other parts of the South, including parts of Tennessee and Georgia.

BODY FOUND-TRACTOR

Man found dead in tractor at North Carolina recycling site

HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — Police say a man was found dead in the driver's seat of a tractor at a North Carolina recycling site, but foul play is not suspected. The Winston-Salem Journal reports High Point police said the facility manager saw the truck arrive to pick up a load from the loading dock, but when he couldn't make contact with the driver. he checked inside the cab and found 66-year-old Jerry Wayne McCuller of Tupelo, Mississippi, dead in the cab, Officials don't know how McCuller died, but an autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death.