Mayor Lumumba addressed the press before being tested for COVID-19 on May 26, First Lady Ebony watches. Photo by Kayode Crown
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba tested negative for COVID-19, Communications Director Candace Cole told the Jackson Free Press yesterday. Lumumba had a mouth swab on May 26 at a mobile testing site at Wood Village Apartments. His wife, Ebony Lumumba, also tested negative to COVID-19.
The Jackson-Hinds Community Health Center set up the site and collected the samples of many of the residents, even those without symptoms, to increase the testing rate and better mitigate the virus' threat by identifying more people who may have COVID-19 but do not know it.
Lumumba hailed the health center’s partnership for providing the human resources to carry out the testing the City purchased.
"It was a perfect marriage not only because they are strategically located throughout the city, but it also makes sense that the city would not try to set up a separate operation," he said. "So, we are grateful that they have been so willing to accommodate our residence."
The mayor said the plan is not just for testing to be done at the premises of the health center, but at different places.
"That is what is taking place today. We have this mobile unit set up here outside this apartment complex, and we look forward to having more locations across the city,” he said before his test. “We want to make certain that we make it apparent to the residents that this is a resource that is available to them for free.”
"We have an agreement with Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center that every city employee can be tested for free."
Though Jackson has a lower infection rate than many other places in Mississippi based on its population, Lumumba urges continued vigilance, stating that Jackson has "85 percent black population, and we know that black and brown communities are disproportionately affected."
As of Monday, when the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the highest cases in a day yet, Hinds County had 498 infections and 20 deaths.
First lady Ebony Lumumba said that the couple’s move to be tested publicly is to encourage others to be more vigilant to protect themselves and their loved ones.
"We have small children at home. My parents fall into the high-risk age of over 65, and these are the folks we interact with every day," she said. "We hope that people are hyper-vigilant even if you are not experiencing symptoms, to come and get tested, especially for free so that you are more secure in your health status and not expose loved ones to the illness unknowingly."
A woman who lives at the apartment complex, but declined to give her name, said that after the test, nurses told her that she would get the result via text message. "They put something in my throat. They do not take long at all," she told Jackson Free Press.
Miko Rouster, a certified nurse assistant whose day job is as a home helper for the sick and elderly, also got tested that day. "They do the mouth swab, not the nose swab, which I prefer, I don't want nothing going into my brain. It's better to know than not know. Better safe than sorry any day," she admonished.
Different groups also distributed food to residents during the testing.
Rukia Lumumba, one of the volunteers doing the distribution and the mayor’s sister, stressed the need to build healthy relationships. "We are passing out pizza and healthy snacks through a partnership with Operation Good and Safe Street, who have been out here in this pandemic helping this community by providing food, providing them with hot meals,” she said. “We are passing out masks to make sure people are staying healthy. We are passing out hand sanitizers, as well, and hoping that we can keep safe.”
JHCHC Director of Nursing Glendora Singleton told the Jackson Free Press that people could call the main clinic number at 601-362-5321, use the extension for the telemedicine department to schedule a testing appointment with or without symptoms.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.