Mississippi governor defends ending mask mandate

Mississippi governor defends ending mask mandate
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Mississippi's Republican governor, Tate Reeves, on Sunday defended his decision to roll back restrictions on businesses and end Mississippi's mask mandate, saying the levels of COVID-19 in his state did not warrant such measures remaining in place.

Speaking with CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperDemocrats barrel toward August voting rights deadline CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE on "State of the Union," the governor pushed back against criticism of states that have relaxed COVID-19 restrictions from top health experts including Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: WHO calls for pause on COVID-19 booster shots in wealthier countries | Delta's peak is difficult to project, but could come this month Surgeon General: 'Odds are high' vaccine for kids under 12 will be approved in upcoming school year Fauci: US could see 200K daily COVID-19 cases in the fall MORE.

"The numbers don’t justify government intervention at the levels we are seeing in other states," Reeves said.

"Unlike President BidenJoe BidenBiden nominates Mark Brzezinski to be U.S. ambassador to Poland 10 dead after overloaded van crashes in south Texas Majority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP MORE, who wants to insult Americans and insult Mississippians, I actually trust Mississippians to make good decisions," he added, referring to Biden's quip last week that Reeves and other governors were guilty of "Neanderthal thinking."

Reeves went on to say that he did not believe it was feasible to completely prevent the virus from spreading.

"Our objective in Mississippi has never been to get rid of the virus," he said. "Our approach has been not only to protect lives, but to protect livelihoods."

"We have to get our economy rolling so that individuals can get back to work," the governor added.

Case numbers in Mississippi have dropped in recent weeks following a second surge of infections over much of the fall and throughout the 2020 holiday season. Health officials have seen the state's seven-day average of new infections hover stubbornly above 500 per day after plummeting from heights of several thousand per day in January.

Biden took aim at state leaders including Reeves in comments last week, which White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiThe Memo: DeSantis-Biden sniping underscores COVID-19 frustration DeSantis hits back at Biden criticism: 'Why don't you do your job?' Biden called Shontel Brown to congratulate her after Ohio primary win MORE said were a "reflection of his frustration and exasperation" over their decisions to roll back restrictions.

"He believes that with more than half a million Americans' lives lost, with families that continue to suffer, that it's imperative that people listen across the country, whether they live in a red state or blue state, to the guidance of public health experts," Psaki said.