Per capita Coronavirus cases in the Alabama Black Belt are at high levels

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

As of August 5, 2020 at 11:25 AM
Alabama had 91,776 confirmed cases of coronavirus,
(11,000 more than last week) with 1,639 deaths (41 more than last week)
-Greene County had 247 confirmed cases,
(10 more cases than last week), with 11 deaths
-Sumter Co. had 360 cases with 18 deaths
Hale Co. had 459 cases with 26 deaths

Looking at maps and statistics on the prevalence of coronavirus in Alabama, the map to the right caught my eye. It shows that the Alabama Black Belt counties across the State of Alabama have among the highest per capita rates of coronavirus cases.
The map shows the number of cases in the county, per 100,000 people.
The darker the color of the county, the higher the per capita rate of the disease.
This means while the number of cases in each county is small, in comparison to the total population of the county, the incidence, rate of disease, is higher in many of these rural counties, with significant African-American populations.
The county in the state with the highest number of cases, Jefferson with 12,186 cases, has a per capita rate per 100,000 people of 1,850. In Mobile Co with 9,269 cases, the per capita rate per 100,000 is 2, 243. In Greene County with 247 cases, the per capita rate per 100,000 people is 3,045.

For Sumter County with 360 cases, the per capita infection rate is 2,897. In Hale County with 459 cases, the per capita infection rate is 3,313. For Perry County, the infection rate per 100,000 is 4,841; in Marengo County the rate is 2,804; Dallas County has a per capita rate of 3,490; the rate for Wilcox County is 3,962; and for Lowndes County the rate is 5,768. Going toward the eastern side of the state, Montgomery County has a rate of 2,804; Bullock County has a rate of 4.396 and Macon County has a rate of 1,749.
Mostly every county in the Alabama Black Belt has a higher per capita, per 100,000 population rate than either Jefferson or Mobile counties, which have the highest numerical coronavirus head counts in the state.
This means, the coronavirus infection rate in relation to the population is proportionately much higher in the smaller, poorer, rural counties of the Alabama Black Belt. The Alabama Black Belt counties deserve more attention and funding than they have received for testing, contact tracing, isolation and treatment than they have received so far since the start of this pandemic.
As the dark color on the per capita case map suggests, the Black Belt counties, especially those in the western Black Belt have a high prevalence of the coronavirus disease and should receive more attention before the situation gets worse.
This map should not be a great surprise, since we have known that health care disparities existed in the Black Belt counties before the onset of the coronavirus. This is because these rural counties have high African-American populations, low incomes and significant poverty. Many of the people living in the Alabama Black Belt have co-morbities for the coronavirus, i. e. , diabetes, asthma, COPD, hypertension, obesity, which make people more vulnerable to the virus.
Despite the Alabama Black Belt being rural and people are more spread out than in urban areas, they do live in multi-family and in some cases crowded households, which facilitates the spread of the virus.
The map and other data are available at http://www.alreporter.com/mapping-coronavirus-in-alabama for examination and analysis.

Eutaw City Council approves contract with Water Management Services to correct problems with city’s water system

After months of debate and disagreement, the Eutaw City Council approved an agreement with Water Management Services to correct problems in the city’s water system in a 5-1 vote. All of the Council members voted in favor, while Mayor Raymond Steele is opposed and says he will not honor this contract.
In a special called meeting on Tuesday, August 4th at the Carver School gym, the Council voted to accept the agreement and a temporary ordinance to allow Mayor-ProTemp, LaJeffrey Carpenter, to sign the agreement since Mayor Steele has indicated his opposition and unwillingness to sign. The Eutaw City Council had previously removed the Mayor as Superintendent of the water system.
Council members Sheila Smith, Latasha Johnson and Joe Lee Powell have been pushing for this agreement with a consulting firm headed by Kathy Horne, former Executive Director of the Alabama Rural Water System. “ The problems with the water system have not been resolved for over three years, some water meters do not work properly, billing has been incorrect for many months and revenues have fallen short, so we can’t give city employees raises they deserve,” said Latasha Johnson.
Mayor Raymond Steele said, “Some Council members, who are running for office, are using the water system as a political football. Most of the problems have been resolved.” Council members Smith and Powell say the Mayor has never given a written financial report on the revenues of the water system during this term, which is part of the reason they removed him from his position with the water system, to clear the way for the management agreement.
The three year agreement with Water Management Services, a consultant company affiliated with the non-profit Alabama Rural Water System, will deal with the infrastructure, technical and financial problems of the city’s water system. The agreement also calls for the employment of a three person staff to help manage and correct problems with the physical system and the financial billing process. Water Management Services will also receive a $6.00 a month fee for each water system customer for its assistance.
The agreement is scheduled to begin by September 1, 2020 and show results over time in the condition and finances of the city water system. The proposal submitted by Water Management Services includes some examples of the prior work with rural water systems in Lowndes and Wilcox Counties as well as the City of Georgiana.
In other business, during its meetings on July 16, July 28 and August 4, the Eutaw City Council:
• Tabled an ordinance to prohibit electronic bingo, within the city limits, to secure more information on a potential proposed bingo establishment across from the Love’s Truck Stop.
• Approved the advertisement for bids for resurfacing of the M & M Drive.
• Agreed to bid out the cutting off hay at the City Park and other locations.
• Agreed to take bids for two storm shelters, one in Branch Heights and another located on Boligee Street.
• Agreed to seek bids for the air conditioning of the Carver Community Center gym.
• Agreed to give $1,200 in hazardous pay to city police force, from CARES funds received by the City; and toga all other employees the same hazardous pay bonus from CARES funds, if possible, otherwise from other revenues.
•Worked out an arrangement for Mattie Atkins, City Election Manager to use
the Council meeting room, as a temporary office and to secure additional help and poll officials as needed for the August 25th municipal election.
• Discussed FEMA agreement to fund the repair of washed-out streets and the need to involve more than one contractor and complete all of the work before additional rains make conditions worse.
• Agreed to pay bills for the city.
Heard a complaint from Akheem Blake at 310 Roebuck Avenue that his water meter does not work and that sewage was backing up into the bathroom in his house.

Greenetrack charities distribute $71,100 to local non-profit groups

E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of July, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
According to Luther Winn, Greenetrack CEO, “By giving to the organizations directly, the charities are taking a progressive approach to assist the community in areas where the need is most apparent.”
Winn explained that the Greenetrack charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack are following the rules set forth by Sheriff Jonathan Benison but they have decided to provide the funds directly rather than through the Sheriff’s office.
A total of $71,100 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education ($13,500); Greene County Hospital ($7,500); Greene County Commission ($24,000); City of Eutaw ($4,500); City of Union ($3,000); City of Boligee ($3,000); City of Forkland ($3,000); and Children’s Policy Council ($3,000); Soicety of Folk Arts and Culture ($3,000) and James C. Poole Library $3,000.
The following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Pool Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.

Sheila Hann Smith announces re-election campaign

I, Eutaw City Councilwoman Sheila Hann Smith, who proudly represents the citizens of District 4, announce that I will seek four more years representing the people on the Eutaw City Council.
Smith announced that she is running on a platform of cleaning up the Eutaw Water Department, which, she stated, has been mismanaged and operated in a corrupt manner. Smith began her crusade to clean up the Eutaw Water Department four years ago, and was recently successful in having the Mayor removed as Water Superintendent.
Smith is also leading the charge to hire a professional water superintendent to replace Mayor Steele in this role. Smith said, “The people of my district, and of the City of Eutaw, deserve a water department that is accountable, fair, and accurate. The sad reality is they have been shortchanged in this regard. I want four more years to oversee the reform of the water department to provide honest municipal government services.”

Chondra Mayes seek Eutaw City Council seat, District 1

Chondra E. Mayes, announces her candidacy for Eutaw City Council District 1.
Mayes is 48 yrs old with 3 beautiful children and 2 granddaughters. I’m a member of First Baptist Church of Eutaw, AL and is currently employed as a first responder with Greene County E-911.
Mayes has been a resident of District 1 all of her life and she believe we need some changes. “I believe that the children are our future and we need to believe in them and give them something to do here in Eutaw. We also need growth in our city as well (jobs).”
My goal is to see what the citizens of District 1 need and try my best along with others to do what’s best and make a change. I will be honest and fair with my district and the city of Eutaw.
On August 25, 2020 go out and vote Chondra Mayes for your next city Councilwoman of District 1, Thanks .

Newswire: African trade pact expected to boost the income of participating countries

Map of Africa

by BlackmansStreet.Today

UN News—The African Continental Free Trade Area represents a major opportunity for countries to boost growth, reduce poverty, broaden economic inclusion and help “expand opportunities for all Africans,” said a World Bank official on Monday, which if fully implemented, could boost regional income by around $450 billion.
By making African countries more competitive and lifting some 68 million people out of moderate poverty, the Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA for short, has the potential to increase employment opportunities and incomes”, said the bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, Albert Zeufack.
The pact was brokered by the African Union and entered into force at the end of May last year for the 24 countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification. However, according to news reports, it is unlikely to be implemented for several months, due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus. The initial deadline to begin trading had been 1 July this year.
According to a new World Bank report, the trade pact could improve regional income by $450 billion – or around seven percent of current regional income – speed up wage growth for women, and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035.
With the aim of creating a single, Africa-wide economic market, AfCFTA offers its members unhindered access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
In light of the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked on the African economy, the report suggests that gains achieved will be particularly important.
The pandemic has already caused major trade disruptions across the continent, including in critical medical supplies and food, and is expected to cause up to $79 billion in output losses in 2020. However, by supporting regional trade and reducing trade costs, the successful implementation of AfCFTA would cushion negative COVID-19 effects on economic growth.
Most of AfCFTA’s income gains are likely to come by cutting red tape and simplifying customs procedures. The report explains that tariff liberalization accompanied by reducing non-tariff barriers would boost income by about $153 billion.
The remaining $292 billion would be resulting in measures such as lowering trade costs for businesses and facilitating African businesses to integrate into global supply chains.
In the longer term, the pact would provide a path for integration and enhanced growth for African countries, the report maintains. Moreover, by replacing a patchwork of regional agreements, streamlining border procedures, and prioritizing trade reforms, AfCFTA could also help increase resiliency to future economic shocks.
The African Continental Free Trade Area has the potential to increase employment opportunities and incomes — World Bank economist
While overall economic gains would vary – with the largest benefits going to countries with highest trade costs – the report pointed out that the agreement would spur larger wage gains for women, while boosting wages for skilled and unskilled workers alike.

Newswire: Is the Postal Service slowing mail delivery?

Return envelop for a mail-in ballot

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Already frustrated with late, delayed or lost mail? Residents who depend on the U.S. Postal Service can expect even more frustration.
As first reported by the Associated Press, mail deliveries could be delayed by a day or more under cost-cutting efforts being imposed by the new postmaster general.
“The plan eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and says employees must adopt a different mindset to ensure the Postal Service’s survival during the coronavirus pandemic,” The Associated Press reported, citing a confidential memo circulated throughout the postal service.
Late trips will no longer be authorized. If postal distribution centers are running late, “they will keep the mail for the next day,” Postal Service leaders wrote in a document.
“One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks,” another document says, the AP reported.
In a livestream interview, Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) told BlackPressUSA that Congress had approved new funding for the U.S. Postal Service and hoped to do more.
Congress authorized a $10 billion loan to the postal service as part of a coronavirus relief package. Still, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin steadfastly has refused to hand over the money until the USPS turns over much of its operations to him.
Reports of significant problems at the postal service under newly appointed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor, has exacerbated claims that the slowdown is intentional.
“The Week,” an online publication, called it “yet another example of how Trump’s authoritarian rot is dissolving the American state – and raising the possibility of interference with the 2020 election.”
Trump has voiced strong opposition to mail-in voting.
Additionally, many said the slowdown impacts minorities more than anyone else.
“As a small business owner who utilizes USPS to ship many of our products to customers, this will significantly affect us,” Calvin Harris, the founder and managing director of Reveille Trading Company, a coffee importing operation that offers specialty coffee and single-origin by partnering directly with farms around the world.
“It is my opinion that it will disproportionately harm minority businesses. Black-owned businesses often have harder times securing financing, and we generally secure financing at higher rates than white-owned companies,” Harris opined.
“This means that we run on tighter margins, so many businesses will be forced to either have slower shipping or decrease our already small margins if possible, to offer faster shipping.”
Harris added that USPS priority mail had enabled his company to offer free shipping on all orders. He noted that UPS and FedEx are more expensive options and are much slower.
“For many minority businesses, we have to compete with much larger companies, and we need every advantage that we can get. If I can at least offer free shipping, then it’s one less customer objection that we have to overcome,” Harris said.
Elizabeth Weatherby, who works for the integrated marketing development company, Youtech, recanted a recent move across the country from Massachusetts to Arizona. She said she sent her security deposit overnight via the post office and expected it to arrive long before her week-long journey.
“By the time I had arrived in Arizona, the check was still not delivered to my housing management company. What’s even more strange is that when I called USPS, no matter what number, what office, what location, I could not get through to anyone,” Weatherby stated.
“I was waiting on hold forever and couldn’t even speak with a representative. In-person, I had to go to every single post office in my new town to track down my check. I am lucky my housing management still let me move in. I definitely think this could be due to the Trump Administration slowing down the ability to vote by mail.”

Newswire: Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the impact and severity of COVID-19 disparities in African Americans

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

During a 30-minute interview with BlackPressUSA that was streamed live over Facebook, YouTube, and http://www.BlackPressUSA.com, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke of the importance of convincing African Americans to participate in clinical trials. He also said that school re-openings should depend mainly upon the location and the infection rate in a given area.
Fauci also said a viable coronavirus vaccine is likely only a few months away.
“The fundamental principle is that we should try as best as we possibly can to get children back to school because we know the psychological aspect of that and the unintended consequences for mothers and fathers who may need to stop working, so we should try to get back to school,” Dr. Fauci said when asked about the impact of the pandemic on the upcoming school year.
“However, paramount needs to be the safety, health, and welfare of children, teachers, and families,” Dr. Fauci added.
“We live in a big country. Some places have low incidents and can open schools while some are high. Some areas rate of infection is so high where it’s not prudent to open schools. You don’t want to endanger their health.”
A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci has at times found himself at odds with President Donald Trump. For example, earlier this year, the president announced that he would withdraw U.S. funding and support for the World Health Organization (WHO). However, Dr. Fauci told BlackPressUSA that he still maintains a close relationship with the organization.
“I still work closely with the World Health Organization,” said Dr. Fauci. “I’m on a weekly phone call with them, and I signed a memorandum of understanding. We’re all in with the WHO.”
During the interview, which included National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Dr. Fauci also demonstrated the proper way to wear a facemask. “Early on, there was a shortage of masks because we didn’t want to take masks away from health providers who needed them,” Dr. Fauci remarked. “It’s easy to get a cloth mask now.”
Dr. Fauci explained further that, “when there are droplets when someone sneezes or coughs, you [are protected]. You can take it and wash it with soap and water or stick it in the washing machine.”
Addressing the disparities surrounding COVID-19 and other illnesses, Dr. Fauci pointed to many African Americans, Latinx, and Native Americans occupying essential jobs that provide employees with little — or no — protection.
“On the one hand, there’s a greater opportunity and risk of getting infected, but even as important is that once you get infected, you have prevalence and incidence of co-morbidities that make it more likely you’ll get a severe outcome from the infection,” Dr. Fauci noted.
“Those co-morbidities are like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and lung disease. It’s very clear that African Americans have a higher incidence, and the reality is that you suffer more.”
The hospitalization rates per 100,000 people are stunning when comparing African Americans and Caucasians, Dr. Fauci proclaimed. “In many respects, it’s unacceptable that it should be that way,” he said, noting that the hospitalization rate per 100,000 African Americans stands at 247, compared to 53 per 100,000 whites.
“In other words, that’s almost five times the chance of getting hospitalized even though African Americans comprise just 13 percent of the [U.S.] population,” Dr. Fauci observed. “That’s more than something we need to deal with.”
Dr. Fauci added that there are five fundamental things everyone could do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wear a mask, avoid crowds of more than 10, keep a distance of at least six feet, locations should seriously consider closing bars and getting people who go to bars to stop or do it outside, and wash hands frequently either with soap and water or alcohol Purell.”
Clinical trials are vital, Dr. Fauci said. “We hope that we will have an effective vaccine by the end of the year, which means that as we get into 2021, we want to distribute it for those who could benefit,” he added.
“We need to spend extra effort to protect African Americans, and the way you find out if the vaccine is effective is the enrollment in a vaccine trial. It would be a terrible shame if African Americans stayed away from clinical trials, and they didn’t provide for themselves the vaccine that could protect them.”
Dr. Fauci suggested that he wears a mask everywhere goes and demanded that doing so shouldn’t be about politics. “This is about protecting each other. We’re all in this together,” Dr. Fauci said.
“I’m pleased to see that we now have the president talking about wearing a mask where he didn’t before, and the vice president wears a mask everywhere he goes. We’ve got to pull together.”

Newswire : Obama gives passionate eulogy as John Lewis honored at funeral in MLK’s Atlanta church

President Obama speaks at John Lewis’ funeral

By Minyvonne Burke and Doha Madani, NBC News

Former president Barack Obama gave a searing eulogy for John Lewis, urging Americans to honor the legacy of a civil rights giant by engaging in the “good trouble” that leads to a more perfect democracy in the face of powerful institutions that seek to oppress.
Obama spoke from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral for Lewis in Atlanta on Thursday, where he said he was there because he owed a debt to the 16-term congressman and his “forceful vision of freedom.” Obama, the country’s first Black president, remarked on the instructions given to Americans enshrined in the constitution to create a “more perfect union.”
“John never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country can do,” Obama said. “I mentioned in the statement the day John passed, the thing about John was just how gentle and humble he was. And despite this storied, remarkable career, he treated everyone with kindness and respect because it was innate to him. This idea that any of us can do what he did, if we’re willing to persevere.”
The former president spoke on the current threat to voting rights in America, a cause that Lewis nearly gave his life for as a young man, and the responsibility citizens have to continue to engage in the fight for equality.
“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
While some may criticize those who “dwell on” such injustices during Lewis’ funeral, Obama said they were the same attacks on American democracy that Lewis devoted his entire life to combating. Obama took aim at recent efforts to disenfranchise voters and called on leaders to honor Lewis by revitalizing and protecting voting rights.
“We may not have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws,” Obama continued.
“And attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
Remembering a friend, lawmaker, warrior of peace
The private funeral began at 11 a.m. at the church that was once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We have come to say goodbye to our friend in these difficult days,” the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor, said. “Come on, let the nation celebrate, let the angels rejoice … John Lewis, the boy from Troy, the conscience of the Congress.”
Lewis, who represented Atlanta in the House of Representatives after serving as a young leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, died on July 17 following a monthslong battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
In addition to Obama’s eulogy, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke at the funeral that will conclude memorial services held for Lewis over six days in several cities. President Donald Trump did not attend the funeral.