Mississippi is moving out of lockdown and reopening parks, restaurants and other non-essential shops despite rising coronavirus case numbers.
As the pandemic continues to spread nationwide, Mississippi now has the highest rate of coronavirus hospitalizations of any state, Newsweek reported. On May 1, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced he had been prepared to announce more businesses could reopen, but said a spike in coronavirus cases and deaths caused him “pause,” Clarion-Ledger reported.
The numbers are rising. The Health Department announced 20 additional deaths and 397 new cases of coronavirus in Mississippi on May 1 alone — the highest number of new cases and deaths reported in one day in Mississippi to-date.
As of May 7, Mississippi has reported 8,424 coronavirus cases and 374 deaths.
Though Reeves said he wanted to fully reopen the state’s economy, he said he realizes the pandemic “is not over.” He said he will take the advice from the state health experts and data on reopenings.
Mississippi restaurants are permitted to reopen their dining areas and Reeves said he hoped to reopen casinos by Memorial Day but gambling floors will probably look different when they are back in business, Sun Herald reported.
People are still prohibited from gathering in groups of 10 or more, and they are still required to maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another, according to Clarion-Ledger.
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African Americans make up just under 40 percent of Mississippi’s total population, but represent 56 percent of its known COVID-19 infections and 72 percent of its deaths from the virus, The Insider reported.
“The reduction in income for people during this crisis is going to hit particularly hard in Mississippi … since a large part of the population has little or no cushion to withstand an unexpected financial shock,” Hope Credit Union CEO William Bynum said.
Mississippi has the largest wage gap for service workers of any Southern state, Insider reported. The average annual pay in the retail and hospitality sector is $17,500, compared with almost $39,000 for all industries statewide. Retail and hospitality jobs in Mississippi are filled mostly by Black people and people of color. Blacks people in Mississippi earn about 69 percent of median white incomes for full-time, year-round workers.