Mississippi medical leaders continue to be mystified about why Governor Tate Reeves will not issue a statewide mask mandate to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Yesterday, Reeves added 19 more counties to those where masks are required. That’s now 54 or the state’s 82 counties that Reeves has added incrementally to those where wearing masks is required.
However, the governor has yet to provide any means of enforcement to see that people wear their masks and behave in a way that will bring the pandemic under control.
Mississippi now ranks eighth of all 52 states in the number of COVID-19 deaths per million population. With 1,239 deaths per million, Mississippi has half again more deaths per million than a poor country like Mexico. Mississippi is also fifty percent higher in deaths per million than the United States as a whole.
If the entire country had the same number of deaths per million as Mississippi, we would now have 406-thousand dead from COVID in America instead of the sufficiently horrible current total of 277-thousand.
Last week Governor Reeves said he was not going to pay attention to what he said were “so-called experts,” who called for a statewide mask mandate.
Those included in what Reeves scorned as “so-called experts” included Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the head of the Ole Miss medical school. The state medical association (AMA), the state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Academy of Family Physicians have also urged statewide mask mandates.
Many are curious as to how Reeves places more trust in his own opinions than in those who have medical and public health doctorates. Reeves has a bachelor’s degree in business and is not known to have any medical training or experience.
In her statement last week the medical school chancellor, Dr. Woodward, said, “We do very much believe we should have a statewide mask mandate… I think we have reasonable evidence to believe the county-by-county approach is not working.”
Dr. Thomas Dobbs, M.D., the state’s top medical officer, has also called for a more decisive and aggressive approach to combating the spread of COVID-19 in Mississippi.
From the time the coronavirus first struck in Mississippi Reeves has been what could be considered a “COVID-19 denier.” He resisted closing businesses and school when the pandemic first struck here and seemed to follow the lead of President Trump, who also was a COVID denier. Trump will be gone in 50 days. If Reeves serves his entire term, he will continue in the governor’s office until January 2024.
Reeves has never provided any guidance or means by which his many “executive orders” regarding coronavirus can be enforced. That is frustrating to many mayors and law enforcement officials throughout the state. Can police officers write tickets or arrest people who appear in public places without masks? Reeves has never provided methods of enforcement.
In fact, last spring Reeves denounced Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton who was trying to control coronavirus with orders more strict and specific than Reeves was issuing from the Governor’s Mansion.
Why indeed does Governor Reeves continue to resist aggressive and consistent measures to control the rampant spread of COVID-19 in Mississippi?
One long-time Mississippi political observer said (on condition that he not be identified), “Tate’s a smart guy, but he really thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.He is not a man of action. Tate is a worrier and a hand-wringer. He is timid about taking strong action unless he has a whip or club in his hand.”
Although most northeast Mississippi counties have been under “mask mandates” for some time, people continue to observe a minority of individuals defying the rules. Stores with signs on their doors forbidding people to enter without masks still allow people, including employees, to enter and wander around without masks. More common still, especially among store workers, are people with masks pulled below their noses or simply hanging from their ears.
New Albany Mayor and MS Medical Officer Dobbs issue statements: https://www.nemiss.news/mayor-and-doctor-statements/
Enlightening words from expert epidemiologist, proven correct: https://www.nemiss.news/whats-coming-an-epidemiologist-speaks-plainly/
MS Today: Reeves again rejects statewide mask mandate https://mississippitoday.org/2020/12/01/gov-reeves-again-rejects-statewide-mask-mandate-downplays-soaring-covid-19-numbers/
Covid-19 coronavirus, Governor Tate Reeves, Northeast Mississippi news