Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves says CDC guidance on masks is ‘foolish’

Published 3:38 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

Cases of COVID-19 are surging in Mississippi, but Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that a federal recommendation for people to wear masks indoors is “foolish.”

“It has nothing to do with science,” Reeves said during a speech at the Neshoba County Fair, according to WAPT-TV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course on some of its guidelines Tuesday, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the virus is spreading rapidly.

Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation, and Reeves on Thursday encouraged people to get vaccinated. He went on camera to get his own vaccination early this year.

But during his outdoor speech at the fair, Reeves repeated what his office had said earlier this week — he will not set a mask mandate for schools. Some Mississippi school districts have already started classes, and others will begin by mid-August.

“I don’t think you’re going to see any school district mandate masks in schools,” Reeves said at the fair, according to WJTV-TV. “I think if you start seeing them do that, the parents will erupt, and they should, and I feel certain they will.”

Some Mississippi school districts have mask mandates for the new academic year, but others say wearing a mask is optional. Last week, the state Health Department recommended masks be worn indoors in school settings by all unvaccinated people 2 and older.

The Neshoba County Fair, which bills itself as “Mississippi’s Giant Houseparty,” typically attracts thousands of people to the red clay hills of east central Mississippi. For two days, politicians speak under a tin-roofed pavilion, and most gear their messages to a largely conservative crowd.

The fair was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers decided months ago to go ahead with it this year.

COVID-19 cases have been proliferating in Mississippi in recent weeks because of the delta variant. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 1,908 new cases Thursday. New case numbers the past few days have been comparable to those reported in February, before vaccinations were widely available.