Mississippi mayor fires back after Gov. Reeves’ comments about COVID-19 in his community

Published 6:48 am Sunday, November 15, 2020

Southaven Mayor Darren Musslewhite said he is “setting the record straight” in response to comments about COVID-19 cases in his city and Desoto County.

Musselwhite posted his comments on Facebook after Gov. Tate Reeves said Desoto County has more cases of COVID-19 than any other county in the state.

According to Mississippi Department of Health, Desoto County has a little more than 8,700 total cases, and as of last week, a positivity rate of 16.2%. As far as hospital capacity, 10 of the county’s 48 I-C-U beds are occupied by COVID patients with only one I-C-U bed available.

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“It is a county that over the two-week period of the day that we looked at had more positive counties than any other county in the state,” Reeves said.

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer, said Desoto County is on fire and that he would not go out if he lived in the county.

Reeves said over a two-week period, Desoto County saw more than 900 cases, more than any other county in the state. The governor said it is a few dozen fewer than the Jackson metropolitan area, which consists of Madison, Rankin, and Hinds counties.

“Governor Reeves’ analogy and statements suggesting DeSoto County has an excessive positive case increase compared to other Mississippi heavily-populated counties are simply not correct,” Musselwhite wrote. “Considering DeSoto County’s adjacency to Shelby County, TN, we are by far the most heavily and densely-populated county in Mississippi totaling 1,121,000 people (184,000 for DeSoto County, 937,000 for Shelby County), more than double the population of the Jackson-area counties quoted by our Governor.”

Musselwhite went on to discuss comments made by Dobbs.

“With all due respect to Dr. Dobbs, his comment that ‘he would not leave his house if he lived in DeSoto County’ and that hospitals have capacity problems is both misleading and simply not true. Of course we have a high number of cases because we have the highest population, combined with the fact that case numbers fluctuate for multiple reasons, namely mandatory testing by organizations for people who are not sick, but are suspected to have been exposed.”

Musselwhite said his comments do not mean the virus is not serious or shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“I recommend that we take this as seriously as possible because every life is precious and we don’t know yet if this virus may leave permanent health damage to those infected. I recommend that we take every precaution to protect our fellow man including social distancing, hygiene, and wearing masks when you cannot keep safe distance from other people.”