The NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal complaint alleging the state of Mississippi did not adequately dispense federal COVID-19 relief funds to combat the pandemic’s outsized impact on communities of color.

The complaint, filed on behalf of both the national organization and state chapter of the NAACP, says the state’s actions violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after state officials “deliberately shut out advocacy groups” from receiving federal funds to address the pandemic in the minority community.

“The State of Mississippi and other public and private organizations in the state received $15.7 billion in COVID-19 related funding, yet the state has continued to provide a discriminatory program, resulting in disproportionate rates of sickness, hospitalization, and death in Black, Indigenous, and brown communities,” the NAACP complaint says.

The complaint continues: “Mississippi has engaged in unlawful race discrimination when it failed to plan, distribute, or otherwise provide COVID-19 vaccine access in an equitable manner breaching its legal duty to ensure nondiscrimination in federally assisted emergency preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery programs.”

When asked for comment, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said his agency, the Mississippi State Department of Health, recognized the COVID-19 racial health disparities early and worked hard to correct them.

“Although the state encountered numerous challenges to advancing the equity mission — including early vaccine access, trust issues, and technological barriers to vaccine appointments — a statewide coalition of agency, faith, medical and community leaders was able to deliver much needed information, vaccines and PPE to minority populations across the state,” Dobbs said.

The results of those efforts, Dobbs said, are apparent today: a higher vaccine rate among Black Mississippians than whites in the state, a higher vaccine rate among Black Mississippians than Black Americans at large, and a lower COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Mississippians than whites. The vaccine rate for Hispanics, Dobbs added, was near equal to that of white Mississippians.

The pandemic, in its earlier days, did have disparate effects on Mississippians of color — in mortality rates, in spread of the virus and in vaccine rates once they became available. Dobbs and other state officials were brutally honest about those racial disparities and said they worked hard to address them.

READ MORE: ‘We’re failing minority communities’: Why Black Mississippians are receiving fewer COVID-19 vaccines than white Mississippians

But the complaint alleges that as the pandemic wore on, state leaders did not develop a strategy to ensure a higher vaccination rate in the state — especially in the minority community — and did not provide a plan to improve the vaccination rate.

The complaint also points out the state’s health care system has built-in problems that disproportionally impact minorities. For instance, the complaint says more of a plan was needed to aid minorities in being transported to vaccine locations.

“Just as Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has disavowed the existence of systemic racism, so too has the state’s COVID-19 vaccine program failed to account for these systemic deficiencies and vulnerabilities,” the complaint said. “The state’s vaccine program discriminates against communities on the basis of race, color, or national origin, even when disparities in access to COVID-19 testing foreshadowed these problems.”

The NAACP is asking the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights “to immediately investigate and remedy the unlawful and ongoing discrimination.”

“We would like immediate and lasting changes to vaccine policies and procedures to ensure economically and socially marginalized groups have access to vaccine programs in their areas, including urban and rural communities that have inadequate or substandard access to private health care facilities, hospitals, and pharmacies,” said Rev. Robert James, president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP.

READ MORE: How Black community leaders put Mississippi on the path to vaccine equity

We want to hear from you!


Central to our mission at Mississippi Today is inspiring civic engagement. We think critically about how we can foster healthy dialogue between people who think differently about government and politics. We believe that conversation — raw, earnest talking and listening to better understand each other — is vital to the future of Mississippi. We encourage you to engage with us and each other on our social media accounts, email our reporters directly or leave a comment for our editor by clicking the button below.



Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

X

Republish this article

Unless otherwise noted, you can republish most of Mississippi Today’s stories for free under a Creative Commons license.

For digital publications:

  • Look for the “Republish This Story” button underneath each story. To republish online, simply click the button, copy the html code and paste into your Content Management System (CMS).
  • Editorial cartoons and photo essays are not included under the Creative Commons license and therefore do not have the “Republish This Story” button option. To learn more about our cartoon syndication services, click here.
  • You can’t edit our stories, except to reflect relative changes in time, location and editorial style.
  • You can’t sell or syndicate our stories.
  • Any web site our stories appear on must include a contact for your organization.
  • If you share our stories on social media, please tag us in your posts using @MSTODAYnews on Facebook and @MSTODAYnews on Twitter.

For print publications:

  • You have to credit Mississippi Today. We prefer “Author Name, Mississippi Today” in the byline. If you’re not able to add the byline, please include a line at the top of the story that reads: “This story was originally published by Mississippi Today” and include our website, mississippitoday.org.
  • You can’t edit our stories, except to reflect relative changes in time, location and editorial style.
  • You cannot republish our editorial cartoons, photographs, illustrations or graphics without specific permission (contact our managing editor Kayleigh Skinner for more information). To learn more about our cartoon syndication services, click here.
  • Our stories may appear on pages with ads, but not ads specifically sold against our stories.
  • You can’t sell or syndicate our stories.
  • You can only publish select stories individually — not as a collection.
  • Any web site our stories appear on must include a contact for your organization.
  • If you share our stories on social media, please tag us in your posts using @MSTODAYnews on Facebook and @MSTODAYnews on Twitter.

If you have any other questions, contact Audience Development Director Lauchlin Fields.

1





Source link

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.