NACHC has a new Health Centers on the Frontlines podcast out. This newest episode takes a deep dive in Mississippi, where COVID cases are easing a bit after being number one in the nation for the highest COVID deaths per capita, plus one of the lowest rates of vaccination. The state is far from being out of the woods yet. Doctors warn children infected with COVID-19 are still filling up the state’s only pediatric hospital as some schools are again dropping mask mandates. Mississippi is not alone. Rates of COVID-19 in rural pockets of America are roughly 54% higher than suburban or urban communities, according to the Rural Policy Research Institute. There are also a host of other factors working against Mississippi: vaccine misinformation, limited options for care, political resistance to vaccines, and this: the political determinants of health.
Guest Terrence Shirley, CEO of the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi who is also the son of Civil Rights activist and physician Aaron Shirley, described this as a longstanding challenge, back in the 1960s and now: “[My father] would observe that the same political determinants of health, i.e. the lack of Medicaid expansion, the lack of adequately funding school systems, the political gerrymandering of districts — the general lack of not caring for those that are less fortunate continue to be the force behind the social determinants of health that we are recognizing now, and that COVID exposed. You would also observe that COVID pulled back the curtain on the fact that racism is still very, very deeply rooted in this country and we still have a very long way to go.”
You can view the podcast in its entirety by visiting this link.