Black Belt has some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in state

Black Belt hit hard by COVID-19

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Counties in Alabama’s Black Belt region are experiencing some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the state.

Dr. Karen Landers said there are a lot of factors that go into why high case rates centralize around that region.

“We have to address the issue of medically underserved or less access to health care coupled with regions of the state that have more underlying health problems," she said.

Alabama Rural Health Association Executive Director Ryan Kelly reiterated that less access to quality health care can lead to higher instances of chronic disease and infectious disease.

"For COVID, this is a double-impact for this population as COVID is infectious in nature, and attacks those with immunocompromised conditions," Kelly said. "This will not only cause the rate of spread to increase, but the rate of ICU bed utilization."

The black belt region experiences high case rate.
The black belt region experiences high case rate. (Source: wsfa)

Kelly also said the culture in this region is a factor in the high case rate.

"The culture and daily life of the population in this region is built on more social gatherings and tight living spaces," he said. "This causes infection to spread more rapidly than what would be observed in areas that have a culture of more isolation and natural space."

Bullock County EMA Director Ray Scott said he has had to shut down several parties of more than 100 people in the last three weeks.

“One of the first things that I've noticed is that people have a relaxed attitude towards the Coronavirus," he explained. “People are just still socializing as if it's the norm. And they're still having house parties, large crowds, they're still having gatherings.”

Dr. Landers says she believes people across the entire state are not taking it seriously.

“We do know that the message is getting tired. It’s that same message," she said. "That is social distancing respiratory hygiene, including the good hand washing and hand sanitizing, wearing the cloth face covering and assessing your individual health risk for being exposed to other people.”

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