Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updated guidelines that call for Americans in areas of “high or substantial transmission” to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status—an update that Governor Tate Reeves calls foolish.
Speaking with SuperTalk Mississippi at the Neshoba County Fair, the governor expressed his opposition to the CDC’s announcement, saying it was politically motivated.
“It seems in the last six months they’ve become very, very political, and certainly, their decision that they made in the last couple of days reeks of politics and it has nothing to do with rational science.”
He went on to say that the recommendation of masks for vaccinated individuals could have an adverse affect on the push to vaccinate more Mississippians—the state’s vaccination remains among the lowest in the country at 34.4%.
“If you are trying to increase the number of individuals who get vaccinated in our state, the worst thing you can possibly do is tell them ‘whether you get vaccinated or not, you’re still going to have to do all the same things.’ It creates perverse incentives and it makes no sense whatsoever. It was wrong and quite frankly, it was foolish, and it’s hurting more than it’s helping in the pandemic,” Reeves said.
While health officials continue to strongly urge all Mississippians to get the shot, the governor reiterated his stance that each person should make their own decisions on whether or not they should take the vaccine.
“I believe it’s safe. I believe it’s effective, but much stronger than my views on the vaccine, I also believe in personal responsibility and ensuring that you have the right to make the best decision for you and your family,” he said.
Mississippi is currently experiencing a fourth wave of the pandemic as, just this morning, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported an additional 1,908 cases and hospitalizations have ballooned up to 776 after falling below 100 in late June. As hospitals report ICU bed shortages, MSDH has enacted its “COVID-19 System of Care Plan.”
Currently, 96% of new cases in Mississippi are among unvaccinated individuals while 88% of hospitalizations and 82% of deaths are in unvaccinated Mississippians. Wednesday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs did express that they are now seeing additional “spillover” into some subsets of vaccinated individuals—especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
The emergence of the Delta variant has also led to an increased number of hospitalized children and young adults.
With the beginning of the school year inching closer, both the CDC and MSDH have recommended universal masking in schools, but no mandate will be coming from the governor’s office.
“I don’t anticipate, in the state of Mississippi from my office, making any more major changes in mask policy,” Reeves said.
Dr. Dobbs recently stated that a majority of Mississippi’s teachers are unvaccinated.