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

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MISSISSIPPI

Virus cases in Mississippi increase by more than 200

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases in Mississippi increased by more than 200 Friday, bringing the state’s total to at least 469 cases and 82 deaths. Gov. Tate Reeves encouraged residents to continue practicing social distancing over the Easter holiday by worshiping at home on Sunday. During the news conference, Reeves mentioned an incident reported in Greenville where police issued tickets to those gathered in cars to hear their pastor preach on the radio. He said the congregants appeared to be doing everything right by sitting in their cars with the windows closed. Still, Reeves said he’s concerned that large gatherings like that could put social distancing at risk.

REPUBLICAN CONVENTION POSTPONED

Mississippi's GOP postpones state convention

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s Republican Party is putting off its annual state convention. In a news release Friday, the party said the event was initially set for May 15 and 16 but has been postponed amid the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19. In addition, the state's Republican party is postponing all precinct caucuses and county conventions that would have been held this month. The party said it hopes to reschedule the events “as soon as it is safe to do so.”

MISSISSIPPI-SPECIAL ELECTION

November vote will fill 1 of 2 Mississippi House vacancies

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A special election in November will fill one of two Mississippi House seats left vacant by a resignation. Gov. Tate Reeves announced Friday that he has set Nov. 3 as the date for the race in House District 87 in Forrest and Lamar counties. That’s the same day as the general election for president and other federal offices. If a runoff is needed for the special election, it will be Nov. 24. Republican Rep. Billy Andrews of Purvis resigned March 31 because he was not able to collect his state government pension while serving in the state House.

CELLPHONE-PRISON SENTENCE

Mississippi court won't undo 12-year sentence for jail phone

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi lawyer says he's going to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to overturn the 12-year prison sentence given to an African American man who took his mobile phone into a jail cell. Critics say Willie Nash's sentence is an example of racial injustice. They say it was not clear whether Nash was told he could not keep his phone when he was booked on a misdemeanor charge. The Mississippi Supreme Court said Thursday that it will not reconsider its earlier decision to uphold Nash's sentence. Will Bardwell of the Southern Poverty Law Center says the next step is an appeal to the nation's high court.

OBIT-GUY HARRIS

Guy Harris, longtime friend of Elvis Presley, dies at 81

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A longtime friend of Elvis Presley who spent years sharing his personal memories of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll has died. News outlets report Guy Harris died Monday at the age of 81 after being hospitalized in December. Harris and Presley grew up together in Tupelo, Mississippi, and the two remained friends up until Presley's death in 1977. Harris went on to become a historian at the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, where he shared his stories about “the King” with fans from all over the world. Museum director Dick Guyton called him a great ambassador for Tupelo and the Elvis world.

TRUMP-TVA PRESIDENT

Federal utility board backs CEO under Trump's fire for pay

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The board of a federal utility is criticizing “ill-informed opinions” about how much their organization’s top executive gets paid after President Donald Trump blasted the salary level as “ridiculous.” According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee Valley Authority board chairman Skip Thompson sent a memo to the utility’s more than 10,000 employees and contractors Thursday defending the board’s decision to pay CEO Jeff Lyash an $8.1 million compensation package. Trump appoints the TVA board. He suggested he could reduce the CEO’s salary in a coronavirus-related infrastructure bill. TVA does not receive federal taxpayer funding and serves 10 million ratepayers in seven southeastern states.