Mississippi governor blames 'liberal media' for not linking coronavirus surge to protests

Mississippi governor blames 'liberal media' for not linking coronavirus surge to protests
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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Monday accused the "liberal media" of blaming increasing coronavirus cases on family gatherings rather than protests, despite data indicating no spikes in the cities that saw the largest demonstrations.

“Liberal media is trying to claim the increase of Coronavirus was just caused by family BBQ’s on Memorial Day,” Reeves tweeted. “They completely ignore the fact that our uptick (and other states) began within days of massive protests all over—which they celebrated.”

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While coronavirus numbers nationwide have skyrocketed in recent weeks, cases have not spiked in the cities that saw the biggest protests after the police killing of George Floyd, including Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C. While all 50 states have seen protests, in settings ranging from small towns to major cities, cases are currently surging in a group of Southern and Western states in particular, including California, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Florida.

Public health officials say no link has emerged between protests and coronavirus outbreaks and have blamed the reopening of indoor venues particularly bars and socializing by young people. Erika Lautenbach, director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington state, told NPR in late June that officials have not been able to connect any cases to a recent rally in the county seat of Bellingham, attributing the lack of transmission to the use of face masks.

Lautenbach said indoor parties were a far likelier vector of the virus.

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"We're finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren't wearing masks, are our primary source of infection," she told NPR. "And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that's a pretty massive spread."

Reeves sent the tweet the same day Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) announced he has tested positive for the virus, saying he likely contracted it in meetings with colleagues to discuss the legislature’s recent removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag.

Reeves himself said he had been in contact with a person who later tested positive, although it was unclear whether he was referring to either Gunn or the person Gunn believes he got the virus from.