Governor updates pandemic response, reaffirms stance against mask mandate

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As Mississippi continues to navigate the Delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Tate Reeves held a press conference this afternoon to provide the latest on the state’s response effort while also adamantly reaffirming his stance against mask mandates. 

With cases numbers and hospitalizations rising, the governor opened the briefing by encouraging Mississippians to look at the facts surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Statistics show that they are very effective at preventing serious disease and they are very effective at preventing death,” he said. 

The latest MSDH data outlines that 98% of new cases, 89% of hospitalizations and 87% of deaths are among the unvaccinated. The median age of those breakthrough deaths is around 80 years old. 

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs reinforced the effectiveness of the monoclonal antibody treatment that is being offered at 179 locations across the state. The MSDH is also adding a hotline for those who contract COVID-19 to get them connected to the treatment. The hotline can be reached at 1-877-978-6453. 

Another trending topic covered in the press conference was COVID-19 in Mississippi schools as over 20,000 students are currently quarantined across the state. 

Governor Reeves noted that his priority when it comes to schools remains “do whatever it takes to stay in person.” Without any new announcements, the governor offered that the state of emergency was recently extended to give school districts the flexibility to make their own decisions in terms of masking and other preventative measures. 

In the place of mandates, the governor urged individual responsibility for all Mississippians. Specifically for those who choose not to get vaccinated, he stated that social distancing, masking and avoiding indoor crowds help reduce transmission of the virus. 

On the mask issue, Governor Reeves delivered what he called “a little bit straight talk” on the topic. 

“There are those on the right who would like me to make masks and vaccines into a political battle. There are those on the left, including most of the reporters in this room, who really want to make political hay and grow their Twitter platform because I will not issue mandate after mandate after mandate. Let me be clear, I do not give a damn about any political agenda. This pandemic, much of which is a pandemic of the unvaccinated at this time, is before us. There will be plenty of time for politics but this ain’t it. My objective is to give Mississippians the facts, give them and their local officials the tools they need to make good decisions and then trust them to love each other enough to do it,” Reeves said. 

Governor Reeves also updated the federal resources that have arrived in Mississippi to assist the state’s stressed healthcare system. This includes medical teams at UMMC and the North Mississippi Medical Center, 150 ventilators and several additional teams that are assisting with the administration of monoclonal antibodies. 

Watch the full briefing below:

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