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 TapperFrederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Fauci on FDA advisers' booster recommendations: 'I don't think they made a mistake' 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 — Presented by Indivior — CDC panel approves boosters for some, but not based on jobs Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in MORE.
"The numbers don’t justify government intervention at the levels we are seeing in other states," Reeves said.
"Unlike President BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill 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."
"We have to get our economy rolling so that individuals can get back to work," Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves defends decision to lift mask mandates. "Unlike Pres. Biden who wants to insult Americans and insult Mississippians, I actually trust Mississippians to make good decisions" pic.twitter.com/nr075ayLVo— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 7, 2021
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 PsakiBiden administration defends handling of Haitians amid uproar Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal 'Quad' summit is a chance to clarify our Indo-Pacific agenda 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.