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USM Program Distributes Masks to Delta Residents Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 10:01am

Community Health Advisors met with Freddie White-Johnson, second from left, at the Carroll County Courthouse this week to distribute free masks.

Community Health Advisors met with Freddie White-Johnson, second from left, at the Carroll County Courthouse this week to distribute free masks.

The Mississippi Network for Cancer Control and Prevention (MNCCP)/ The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation (FLHCF) are continuing their life-saving efforts by distributing thousands of free masks to residents of the Mississippi Delta in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, organized by MNCCP Director and FLHCF Founder and President Freddie White-Johnson, is providing Delta residents with a pack of five reusable face masks to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Last week, the MNCCP and FLHCF teams traveled to Quitman County where they distributed more than 2,250 free face masks to community members in Marks, Miss.

The organizations also recently distributed a total of 6,000 face masks in Leflore, Sunflower, Humphreys, Bolivar, Montgomery and Carroll Counties with plans to visit Washington, Yazoo, Coahoma, Holmes and Tallahatchie Counties in the upcoming weeks.

Distributing masks at a local restaurantIn addition to its mission to eradicate cancer in the Mississippi Delta and beyond through education and prevention, White-Johnson said the organizations saw the need to also address COVID-19 which is affecting vulnerable populations at greater rates.

“Like cancer, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting minorities and vulnerable populations, particularly in underserved, rural areas like the Mississippi Delta where access to healthcare is limited,” said White-Johnson.

Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) indicates that counties in the Mississippi Delta have some of the highest numbers of reported COVID-19 cases in the state.

A MSDH report from Aug. 17 shows that 52.4 percent of COVID cases and 50 percent of COVID deaths in the state were African American, despite making up just 37.8 percent of the state’s population according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Distributing masks at a park“Something as simple as wearing a face mask can greatly reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, so we wanted to ensure that the proper PPE is available to those who need it most. We appreciate our sponsors and volunteers for their help in making this project a success,” said White-Johnson.

The MNCCP/FLHCF face mask distribution was made possible through partnerships with the Mississippi State Department of Health in collaboration with Senator Robert Jackson (District 11); the Greenwood Community and Recreation Center; Drs. Aaron & Ollye Shirley Foundation; Littleton Law Office; and Locust Grove M.B. Church of Greenwood.

“We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” said White-Johnson. “Together, we are fighting to save lives throughout the Mississippi Delta.”

To learn more about MNCCP, visit To learn more, or to support the work of the FLHCF, visit