Kristina Taylor, 18, cries as she holds a portrait of her late mother, Sharon Taylor, while she and her older sister Kristi Wishork, 25, recall the care their mother had for her children and grandchildren, Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at their home in Tucker, Miss. Taylor, 53, died of coronavirus at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson on June 26 after two weeks in the hospital. She never saw her daughter Kristina, the class valedictorian at Choctaw Central High School, graduate. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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.”

Click here to read the full story from The New York Times.

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.

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