Mississippi governor insists on not returning state’s virus mitigation efforts, despite rapidly rising cases

Published 3:59 pm Friday, August 13, 2021

On Friday as his state reported more COVID-19 coronavirus cases than ever before and federal workers cared for patients in a parking garage due to overcrowded hospitals, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves doubled down on his insistence that he would not return the state’s virus mitigation efforts used last year.

“As I have said repeatedly over the last several days, this current wave seems more and more as a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Reeves said at a news conference Friday. “We are headed toward a new peak, and there are a number of challenges that lie ahead.”

Reeves said his focus was on working with emergency management resources to help the state’s stressed hospital system and urging people to get vaccinated.

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Reeves said he would not issue any kind of statewide mask mandate or require state schools to do so either.

“We don’t need to stand up here and preach at people,” he said. “I don’t have any intention of issuing a statewide mask mandate for any age group of Mississippians.”

Reeves discounted the potential impact on children that are too young to be vaccinated saying that most children who get COVID-19 only get a “case of the sniffles.”

“We’re not going to have a statewide mask mandate,” he said. “We’re not going to have top-down, statewide intervention at this time.”

Medical authorities across the state, including the state’s own health department, have urged Reeves to at least issue a statewide mask mandate for school children, but Reeves said he believes parents and local school districts should make decisions for themselves.

“If you look at those individuals under the age of 12, what you find is that it is very rare that kids under the age of 12 have anything other than the sniffles. Does it happen from time to time, sure it does.”

Earlier this week, the state’s only children’s hospital reported they were full with 10 children waiting in the emergency room for available beds.

Reeves, who has a college degree in economics, has long said his response to the virus is based on the numbers.

Mississippi reported 5,023 new cases, a new record, and 31 deaths on Friday. The state’s hospitalization numbers also set a new record on Friday. Last week more than 4,400