As national and state statistics are starting to show African Americans have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Moss Point stands out as one majority black Mississippi community where those numbers are playing out in a stark reality.
Of the 111 people who have tested positive in Jackson County, almost 50% are from Moss Point, said Singing River Health System CEO Lee Bond.
Five of the six people who have died in Jackson County also are from Moss Point.
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Wednesday revealed statewide figures on the impact of COVID-19 on the black community. Of the 2,003 reported cases, 56% are black people. And of the 67 deaths, 72% are black.
The Associated Press also released Wednesday an analysis of nationwide data, which shows nearly 3,300 of the nation’s 13,000 deaths thus far — about 42% — were black.
Bond said the health department’s figures are part of a trend.
“Our African-American community is subject to conditions like high blood pressure and COPD that make it harder to fight the virus,” Bond said.
Louisiana’s state health department released data Monday showing that hypertension was the underlying condition that was most common among those who died from COVID-19, according to NOLA.com. Diabetes and chronic kidney disease ranked second and third.
COVID-19 cases with underlying conditions by race in Mississippi as of April 8, 2020.
“I would say this disease is colorblind, but we have a culture throughout our Gulf Coast where we love each other and we love to get together. If we don’t stop visiting, we’re not going to stop the spread.”
Bond said simple steps can be taken in Moss Point to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“The virus appears to be most commonly spread by family members visiting family members in other households,” he said. “Our advice is if you don’t live there, don’t go there. If they don’t live there, don’t let them in.
“If everyone would stop visiting each other for just a few days, we could all get the world back to work within a week and a half.”
State Rep. Jeramey Anderson, who represents Moss Point, self-quarantined in Jackson for 14 days before returning to his district to be with family. He reinforced much of what Bond had to say.
“People in Moss Point have to stay home,” he said. “That’s pretty much the gist of the whole thing. If someone doesn’t live in a household, you shouldn’t allow them in.”
The Moss Point-Jackson County NAACP on Wednesday issued a “high alert” to the black community in Moss Point “and underprivileged people in general throughout Jackson County.”
“We want to stress the importance of social distancing, staying at home with limited visitors, maintain a 6-feet distance from others, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask away from home,” NAACP chapter president Curley Clark said in a statement. He has also scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Thursday.
Gov. Tate Reeves has issued a mandatory shelter-in-place order that asks people to practice social distancing and limit public gatherings to 10 people or fewer, but Anderson worries some in his community still don’t appreciate the threat.
“While some people have taken precautions, there is a very large group of folks in Moss Point that do not understand the seriousness,” Anderson said.
“We have to assume every person has it. If we truly want to get through this pandemic we have to make those same assumptions with friends and family members.”
Anderson emphasized that even though a gathering includes 10 or fewer people, the six-foot rule still applies.
“Just because you are in a gathering of of 10 or less, that doesn’t exempt you from getting infected,” he said. “There are so many people that think just because they have a gathering at their house or go to a gathering of 10 or less, you’re not going to get the virus. That’s not true.”