Black people are still disproportionately dying from the coronavirus. The primary comorbid condition is not drug or alcohol abuse, nor poor health, as anti-Black narratives suggest, but structural White supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the ways that it targets and decimates Black communities on all fronts and in all sectors, and how its adherents and perpetuators endanger and disregard anything and everyone that stands in the way of it flourishing.

This is especially evident in southern states that have opted not to expand Medicaid, but whose governors rushed to reopen businesses even though no vaccine or herd immunity had been established. The areas have experienced a surge in new COVID-19 cases as a result. In May,  Montgomery, Alabama, was down to one ICU bed and forced to send patients to Birmingham. At the beginning of July, Mississippi’s five largest hospitals were out of ICU beds, with four other hospitals in the state having 5 percent or fewer beds available.

Black South
The Natchez-Vidalia Bridge are twin cantilever bridges crossing the Mississippi River between Vidalia, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi.

Louisiana’s Bienville Parish, which is more than 40 percent Black, and Alabama’s Tallapoosa County, nearly 30 percent Black, has maintained high and disproportionate death rates. According to the Augusta Chronicle, cash poor, majority Black counties in Georgia with little access to intensive or primary care have suffered the highest death rates from COVID-19, with Hancock County, Randall County, Terrell County, and Early County having the highest death rates in the United States.

Florida’s Broward County is also being hit hard. According to the Sun-Sentinel, “Blacks make up nearly 70 percent of under-45 deaths in Broward County, the highest percentage of counties in South Florida. About 35 percent of the county’s under-45 population is Black.”

The Antiracist Research & Policy Center's COVID Racial Data Tracker - The Atlantic
The Antiracist Research & Policy Center’s COVID Racial Data Tracker – The Atlantic

For Part I of our ESSENCE Reports 3-part series, “COVID-19’s Impact on Black Communities,” we turned our lens on the Black South and how histories of Black resistance and rebellion against White supremacy—as well as White supremacy itself—shape the realities of COVID-19 throughout the region.

Featured are the following:

  • asha bandele, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Activist
  • LaTosha Brown, Activist and Cofounder of Black Voters Matter Fund
  • Chelsea Clayton-Bates, Second Grade Teacher, Vidalia Lower Elementary School, in Vidalia, Louisiana
  • Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Co-Executive Director, Highlander Research and Education Center
  • Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

Please watch Part I: COVID-19 And The Black South above, and join the conversation at #ESSENCECOVID19.


Coming soon: Part II: COVID-19 and Mass Incarceration, and Part III: COVID-19 and Environmental Injustice.


ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as for tips on taking care of yourselves, your families and your communities.