Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves couldn’t provide a coherent response when CNN host Jake Tapper asked him how he planned to address the soaring COVID-19 death rate in the Magnolia State. Reeves is a part of a clique of Republican governors who deflect and double down on lousy talking points as people continue to die from the pandemic.
At this point, no one is surprised at the incompetence and lack of empathy. But having the governor of the nation’s Blackest state openly contradicting pubic health data is scary. Instead of responding to Tapper when asked what steps he plans to take as governor, Reeves constantly shifts blame to President Joe Biden and at one point claims the new federal vaccine protocol is a distraction from Afghanistan.
But Tapper continues to hone in on recent news that Mississippi has the second-highest deaths per capita from COVID-19 in the entire world. If Mississippi were a country, it would rank just behind Peru. (Watch the full interview here).
Somewhat indignant, Reeves begins by stating Mississippi has a part-time legislature and suggests that the country would be better off if Congress were only part-time.
“I wonder if in America if our Congress were part-time, we wouldn’t be in a better position,” Reeves said in response to being asked a direct question about what he was going to do to turn around the horrible data point.
Black Mississippians account for an estimated 37-38 percent of the state’s population, but at the end of Aug. 2021 were 55 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases. Black people also account for 40% of the COVID-19 deaths
But Reeves insists that talking about the death rate is a mistake. “Deaths, unfortunately, are a lagging indicator,” claimed Reeves.
Even if that’s a true statement, it comes across as Reeves being ill-prepared for the challenge of leading over 18 months into a pandemic.
A more extended clip of the interactions has Reeves also claiming Mississippi is no different than countless other states and countries such as the U.K. and Israel. Except those countries have taken the pandemic seriously and work hard to get people vaccinated, unlike Reeves, who pushes the monoclonal antibody treatment used by former President Donald Trump. The quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” seems to be lost on Reeves.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously came under fire for pushing the Regeneron therapy instead of going hard on vaccinations and other safety protocols. As much heat as DeSantis and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp receive for their poor public health leadership, Reeves is definitely in the running for worst public health governor.
Daily totals from the Mississippi Department of Health for Thursday, Sept. 16 show 2,321 new cases, 49 new deaths, and 108 outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
The Mississippi Hospital Association is among those urging pregnant people to get vaccinated. While there is no associated miscarriage risk with vaccination, data shows an increase in stillbirths in unvaccinated pregnant people. Mississippi claims to care so much about the fate of an unborn fetus it is challenging legal access to abortion. Too bad Reeves’ administration doesn’t care about challenging COVID-19 with the same zeal.
Reeves is correct in saying the delta variant isn’t just impacting Republicans. He’s also right that the delta variant is more transmissible. But the governor fails to engage with the dire situation in his state. At some point, leaders need to take responsibility when things don’t turn out well.