Leaders of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians say they are “losing parts of our culture” as the COVID-19 pandemic has ripped through their community.
More than 10% of tribal members have contracted the virus, The New York Times reports, and they’ve made up 64% of Neshoba County’s COVID-19 deaths despite only making up 18% of the county’s population.
“We aren’t just losing family members or an aunt or uncle, we are losing parts of our culture,” Mary Harrison, interim health director for the Choctaw Health Center, told the Times. “We’ve lost dressmakers, we’ve lost artists, elders who are very fluid in our language — so when you think about an individual we’ve lost, these are important people in our community.”
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After a steady decline in total cases and average cases, COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in Mississippi. The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases is now at 646, a 27% increase since the start of October and a 24% increase in the last week alone. The average is also the highest since Sept. 4.