While medical professionals have repeatedly said that simple tasks such as social distancing, wearing face masks, and washing your hands could be instrumental in slowing the spread of COVID-19, white folks nationwide simply ain’t trying to hear that. Which sucks, because their inability to just listen has resulted in rising case numbers in Mississippi.
According to CNN, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Mississippi’s white population in both September and October. This is a drastic shift from the early months of the virus, where Black people made up the majority of cases in the state. In September, white people contracted COVID-19 at a higher rate than Black people for the first time since June, when the state first began reporting cases by racial demographic.
In October, the makeup of new cases began to further reflect the makeup of the state’s population; 59.1 percent white and 37.8 percent Black. State health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told CNN that during the first two weeks of October, white people made up 60 percent of new cases and deaths in the state. This is a complete reversal from the initial months of the pandemic, where Black people made up that same percentage of cases and deaths in the state.
“As far as the case trends, we have had really pretty good uptake by a lot of folks in the Black community with masking and social distancing,” state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs told reporters October 16, when asked about an uptick in White cases. “We’ve worked very aggressively to make sure that the Black community understands where the risks are and what can be done to prevent that.
“And I just will say ... I think big parts of the White community, especially in areas that maybe weren’t as hard-affected (previously), have not been as compliant or engaged actively with social distancing and masking. And I think that does make a difference.”
Asked about this Thursday, Dobbs told CNN he’s relying somewhat on anecdotal evidence, but also “looking at how schools are operating. We are seeing a lot more enthusiastic compliance with ... masking in public” and social distancing “in the Black community.”
And, “we’ve seen a lot of stuff (with) parent-sponsored youth events — dances, parties, things of that nature, that have really undermined a lot of our efforts to keep the schools open,” he said.
What might explain this sheer lack of give-a-fuck from Mississippi’s whites?
Well, while personal responsibility will always take precedent, it must be said that Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) initial strategy to combat the virus boiled down to “yeahhh, I’ma just let God take care of that.”
A mask mandate wasn’t implemented in the state until August, five months into the pandemic, and after cases continually hit numbers surpassing 1,000 a day. While the always-on his bullshit Reeves allowed the mandate to expire in September, he reinstated it in October for several counties that have been experiencing a surge in cases.
I think it’s safe to say the Governor’s wishy-washy, inconsistent response to the pandemic can be partially to blame for the current plight of white Mississippians. Yet, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out those very same white Mississippians.
I’m just saying, it is a red state. I simply figured that folks who mostly consider themselves members of the party of personal responsibility could actually, you know, exercise some personal responsibility.
So, for the millionth time, wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance when possible, and avoid large indoor gatherings. Also, since the weather is cooling down, make sure to get a flu shot. We can’t control how everyone else is moving, but we can take these simple steps to make sure we’re protecting ourselves and those we care about.