Gov. Reeves says he’s making it a priority to keep schools open amid rising COVID cases

JACKSON, Miss. — As Mississippi continues to see a surge in cases due to the Delta variant, Gov. Tate Reeves said he stands by his decision not to issue a mask mandate.

The governor gave an update on the state’s COVID response Thursday where he stressed he was not going to politicize the virus.

“Let me be clear, I do not give a damn about any political agenda,” Gov. Reeves said. “There are those on the right that would like me to make masks into a political battle. There are those on the left, including most of the reporters in this room, who want to make political hate and grow their Twitter platform because I will not issue mandate after mandate after mandate.”

The Mississippi governor said the pandemic is not about politics.

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“My objective is to get Mississippians the facts. Give them and their loved ones the tools they need to make the decisions and then trust them to love each other enough to do it,” he said.

Gov. Reeves said the number of Covid patients in the hospital and the ICU is at a record high, exceeding the previous peak last winter.

He said most people in the hospital are unvaccinated.

“In the last month, 89% of our hospitalizations and 87% of our deaths have occurred amongst the unvaccinated,” he said.

Reeves said he’s making it a priority to keep schools open this year, and he’s willing to give local governments every tool they need to make that happen.

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“If they want to offer vaccines with parents’ permission for those 12 and up, they can. If they want to do social distancing and rearrange class sizes, they can. If they need to utilize masks, they can. I want every school open every day possible this year,” he said.

Reeves said the state has received 150 ventilators from a national stockpile.

Last week, the state administered more than 71,000 vaccines and is on track to beat that number this week.