JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - At a press briefing Tuesday held by Gov. Tate Reeves, State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers discussed how COVID-19 is affecting the African-American community.
Although African-Americans make up roughly 38% of Mississippians, more than half the cases of coronavirus in the state are African-American individuals and more than half of the deaths are African-Americans as well.
Specifically, as of Wednesday, 72% of deaths in Mississippi related to the coronavirus are African-Americans and 56% of infected are African-Americans.
Dr. Byers explained why that is.
“We know that there can be high rates of underlying chronic medical problems in the African-American community in Mississippi,” Byers said. “This is not news. We know with COVID-19 can have a disproportionate impact on individuals with underlying medical problems.”
The most prevalent underlying medical condition, according to the MSDH, is cardiovascular disease. The second being diabetes.
Mississippi isn’t alone in these type of statistics. Our neighbors in Louisiana are reporting that 70% of those who’ve died from the virus there are African-American.
“There is no question that there are a lot of different reasons that the number of cases, as well as the death rates, are higher amongst our African-American population,” added Gov. Reeves.
Reeves said one reason why that is, as stated by Dr. Byers, are underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity.
The governor says he is encouraging leaders in the African-American community and leaders across the state to step up and communicate about the dangers of having underlying medical conditions.
He also mentioned that expenses pertaining to COVID-19 medical treatments will be covered by the government for those insured and uninsured alike.
As of Wednesday, 20,370 Mississippians have been tested for the virus with 2,003 of those tests coming back positive.
There have been 67 deaths.