Reeves stands firm on denying mandates; says he won’t ‘politicize the virus’

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 3:59 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves let out some frustrations during a Thursday press conference on the state’s COVID-19 response.

Reeves again stressed he will not be issuing a mask mandate.

“I do not give a damn about any political agenda,” he said. He says people on the right want him to politicize vaccines and masks and people on the left want to “grow their Twitter platform” by suggesting he should enact “mandate after mandate.”

The press conference came as Mississippi’s hospital systems are inundated with patients.

With thousands of new cases each day, Mississippi has been one of the areas most impacted by the Delta variant’s surge.

Last week, Reeves said the state is “calmly dealing” with the issue. He also mapped out plans to have additional healthcare workers in place in the state.

Reeves admitted hospitals are struggling, but offered hope that more vaccinations could turn things around.

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

He says despite mild side effects, vaccines are very effective at preventing serious disease and death.

More Mississippians are getting vaccinated in response to the Delta variant. Vaccinations are higher than they have been at any point since April, Reeves says.

The need for testing is also increasing. More testing centers have opened across the state, including at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

He says he’s willing to give local governments every tool they need to keep schools open.

“We know there will be outbreaks and there will be quarantines. This is the nature of an airborne virus,” he said.

He says more vaccinations will help lessen these issues.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says the state is very fortunate to see an increase in vaccinations.

“People are recognizing how important that is for surviving not only COVID but the Delta surge,” Dobbs said.

Dobbs also preaches the use of monoclonal antibody treatment in patients with COVID. He signed a statewide executive order for monoclonal antibodies to be given by nurses and clinics without having to go through the health department.

MEMA Director Stephen McCraney says officials have been handing out supplies like youth masks and hand sanitizer to schools across the state in an effort to keep things open.

Dobbs says his wife, who runs an ICU, says they are seeing “a lot more healthy folks” dealing with the Delta variant. he says there are a lot less people from nursing homes in ICUs, and this is likely because they are largely vaccinated.

Dobbs says we are still toward the beginning of the Delta variant surge, and there are still a lot of unknowns that come with it.

He says there is no clear-cut criteria for who should get booster shots, but recommended people talk to their doctors, especially if they have underlying conditions.

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