The disparity between the number of African-Americans and whites in Pike County who contracted or died from coronavirus is unique compared to the racial disparity in Lincoln County.
State health officials reported no new cases or deaths in Pike County on Thursday and the total remains at 173 infections and 10 deaths.
Among Pike County patients diagnosed with COVID-19, 112 were African-American while only 38 were white. Just 14 of the cases countywide occurred in long-term care facilities, according to state data.
While African-Americans are clearly experiencing a higher rate of infection than whites in Pike County, the number of deaths is split about evenly between races.
Of the 10 recorded deaths in Pike County, four were among African-Americans, five were among whites and state officials classified the other as either Native American or an Alaska native.
Residents in neighboring communities are experiencing a different racial disparity.
Health officials have confirmed 194 cases of coronavirus among Lincoln County residents and 16 deaths. Among those who fell ill, 74 were African-American while 108 were white.
Lincoln County experienced a severe outbreak of disease at Silver Cross Health and Rehabilitation Center in Brookhaven in April, which accounted for much of their larger-than-average disease burden among long-term care patients. Of cases coun tywide, 66 were among patients in long-term care facilities.
State health officials warned early during the outbreak of coronavirus that African-Americans were experiencing illness at a higher rates than whites, and that has held true in most counties and across the state at-large, while the opposite appears true in Lincoln County.
Of the state’s 10,483 cases, African-Americans account for 5,612 or 54%, despite making up just 38% of the total population. Whites, who account for 59% of the state population, make up just 33% of coronavirus infections, at 3,416.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said the reason for the disparity is not totally understood, but he noted that higher rates of underlying medical conditions among African-Americans influences the severity of illness among those patients.
Statewide, health officials reported 393 new infections and 15 new deaths Thursday afternoon, bringing the total to 10,483 cases and 480 deaths since March 11.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Mississippians flattened the curve and urged them to continue following health and safety guidelines.
“We have been successful in that effort,” he said. “Important to reiterate is not to lose the ground that we’ve gained.”
In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Tate Reeves said the Mississippi Legislature was working to finalize a $300 million relief package to fund businesses with fewer than 50 employees and prioritizes minority business owners and those who were unable to receive federal Paycheck Protection Program funds.
“It’s really unfair that this nationwide crisis, the cost of it is being carried by those small businesses and their employees,” Reeves said. “Remember, Wall Street is going to be fine. I’m worried about Main Street.”