Mississippi governor says ‘no thanks’ to Biden’s plea for mask mandate

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves rebuffed President Joe Biden’s plea to states to reinstate mask mandates.

Biden and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a day earlier that this is no time to relax safety measures.

In a call with governors on Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky buttressed that message by citing “concerning” national trends: The seven-day average of 61,000 new COVID-19 cases per day is up 13%, and the seven-day average of deaths is up 6%.

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“Let me get this straight – POTUS Biden wants Mississippi to reverse course and reinstate a mask mandate because cases are going up in New York and New Jersey,” Reeves wrote on social media Tuesday. “No thank you, Mr. President.”

Biden’s pleas were largely ignored by other Republican governors who have stayed on track to drop the requirement in their states.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison announced Tuesday he is dropping the state’s mask mandate immediately, a day earlier than previously announced.

“We made our decision in Arkansas based upon the criteria we set,” said the Republican, who last month set targets for test positivity and hospitalizations in order for the state’s requirement to expire. “This is a goal we had. We achieved that, so we stuck with the principle that was outlined.”

Jeffrey Zeints, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, replied that officials are “thinking through how to address hot spots.” He promised to do everything to support Michigan in its “difficult situation.”

Staying the course is a “tough message” to communicate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged.

“It’s important for people to hear that we’re still in a war with this virus, and people still need to be vigilant in order to return to normal,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday.

As more vaccines are deployed — with the nation on track to deliver 200 million doses overall by Wednesday — whether to enforce the wearing of masks has become the latest partisan focal point in the battle against the virus.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey intends for her state’s mask mandate to end on April 9 as planned, though she urged people to wear masks as a matter of personal responsibility.

“We have made progress, and we are moving towards personal responsibility and common sense, not endless government mandates,” said Gina Maiola, Ivey’s spokeswoman.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said he would appeal to his GOP counterpart in neighboring Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb, to reconsider dropping the state’s mask mandate.

“My hope is he hears the president’s call,” Beshear said.