Mississippi currently has the nation’s highest percentage of COVID-19 related hospital admissions with 1,073 people testing positive for the disease, Mississippi Today reports. According to health department data gathered by The COVID Tracking Project, 333 patients have been hospitalized and 22 have died to date.

On Wednesday, April 1st, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves issued a statewide stay at home order, the Clarion-Ledger reports. The order went into effect Friday, April 3, and will last until April 20th at 8 a.m. CT. It includes avoiding groups of 10 people or more, maintaining at least six feet of distance, a suspension on evictions, closures for all non-essential businesses, and enabling employees to work from home.

“Our goal is to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,” Gov. Reeves said. “I pray that all of our orders and preparations will be enough. We believe that this is the right tool at the right time to save lives.”

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations (IHME) cites a steady increase in deaths and projects that 918 people in Mississippi will have died from the novel coronavirus by early August. Since IHME hasn’t included those who are currently hospitalized, the projected vs. actual death rates will be higher.

For elderly, pregnant, and immunocompromised folks who are most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 their exposure to the disease can have fatal consequences. While folks are doing what they can to protect these populations against transmission, asymptomatic individuals, including physicians, staff and family members can unknowingly transmit the disease.

With a spike of confirmed cases in long term and elder care facilities throughout the state, an increase in death rates is likely to follow. Of the 1,358 statewide cases, 28 are residents from nursing homes. These residents are now either hospitalized or isolated from general populations, and are receiving care within the facilities, ABC news reports.

The existing racial and economic disparities across the state further marginalize Black and cash poor residents who don’t have equal access to resources, transportation, healthcare and food. COVID-19 is as much a respiratory illness as it is a disease of inequity, poverty, racism and capital.

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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.

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