Mississippi governor defends COVID-19 response after extending state of emergency

Mississippi governor defends COVID-19 response after extending state of emergency
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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Friday announced at a press conference that he has no plans of issuing a statewide mask mandate or requiring state employees to get vaccinated as the state experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases, WJTV reported.

Reeves did, however, encourage residents of his state to get the vaccine.

"Either the vaccine works or it doesn't. I believe it does, and it works in two ways; makes you significantly less likely to get the virus, and the second phase, makes it even less likely that you are going to end up hospitalized or in an ICU bed," Reeves said, according to WJTV. 

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Reeves's announcement that he will not issue statewide mask or vaccine mandates comes a day after he extended the State of Emergency Order that was initially going to expire Sunday. While issuing the emergency order, the governor reiterated his stance against mandating masks in schools.

"The reality is there is an opportunity for them to recognize how bad the cases are, how many vaccinated they have in their school among kids and employees, and they can make that decision on the local level,” Reeves said in an interview with WLOX where he announced the order.

Mississippi has seen a 121 percent increase in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, data from The New York Times shows, with an average of more than 2,500 new cases a day emerging in the past week. The state also faces one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with only 35 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

The Mississippi Department of Health announced Thursday that the state has broken all past hospitalization records throughout the pandemic, The Hill previously reported.