Behind the Story: Jerry Mitchell on Poverty and the Pandemic in Mississippi
October 20, 2020
Even before the pandemic came to Mississippi, journalist Jerry Mitchell predicted it would devastate the state's already fraying health care infrastructure. Mitchell, founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, and his team have been chronicling the intersections of poverty and COVID-19 across Mississippi.
Their ongoing Pulitzer Center-supported reporting project reveals the breadth of local and national problems that have been worsened by the pandemic's strains. In a story about poultry plants, it is clear how policies around labor, immigration, and health care endangered workers and made meatpacking plants hotbeds of the coronavirus.
Another article on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians detailed how the pandemic has exacerbated the continuing cultural genocide of Native Americans. Choctaws represent less than 18 percent of Neshoba County's population, but account for nearly two-thirds of the county's deaths. COVID has killed tribal members and halted traditional tribal practices.