Mississippi gov skipped mask at NC event, despite mandate

Mississippi's 65th governor Tate Reeves | Source: Tate Reeves/Facebook

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves compared his attending a crowded campaign event over the weekend to people who attended protests against police brutality.

Posted: Aug 26, 2020 2:18 PM
Updated: Aug 26, 2020 2:19 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves compared his attending a crowded campaign event over the weekend for a North Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate — while not wearing a mask -– to people who attended police brutality protests outside the Governor's Mansion in Mississippi in June.

“There’s public health risks to doing large political gatherings, but in this country — and we do still live in America — we protect the right to free speech and we protect the right to political discourse and political events,” Reeves said at a Tuesday news conference.

Both North Carolina and Mississippi have mandates for people to wear face coverings in public places to slow the spread of the coronavirus. No more than 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors are allowed to gather in North Carolina, under executive orders from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. In Mississippi, Reeves signed executive orders banning people from attending gatherings with more than 10 people indoors or 20 people outdoors.

On Sunday, Reeves was one of more than 200 people who attended a tightly packed rally for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at the Rowan County Fairgrounds in Salisbury, North Carolina, where few people wore masks, the Salisbury Post reported. Forest is running for governor against incumbent Cooper.

Reeves said Tuesday that he wore a mask 90% of the time while in North Carolina and that he only took his mask off to speak at the rally in support of Forest. Both Mississippi and North Carolina's mask mandates allow people to remove masks temporarily while making a speech or broadcast.

However, photos from the event show Reeves sitting at tables surrounded by other people, posing for photos next to attendees and shaking hands with Forest and others — all while not wearing a mask.

When asked why he did not wear a mask at the event, Reeves brought up protests around police brutality and racial injustice that happened in Jackson in June.

“There were literally thousands and thousands and thousands of people outside the Governor's Mansion protesting, and I defend their right to do so,” he said. “But just because you agree with those that are protesting, doesn't mean that there are not public health risks to doing so."

Photos documenting protests in Mississippi showed the vast majority of participants wearing masks. Still, Reeves said he thinks it's a fair comparison.

Forest has cited the First Amendment for why he is able to host political events that go against Cooper's executive orders. He has hosted numerous in-person campaign events where attendees did not wear masks. At a campaign event on July 4, Forest claimed that multiple studies have shown masks are not effective at preventing the spread of viruses.

Forest's campaign placed a thermal imaging camera at the front door of his event Sunday that it said detected temperatures of 100.4 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) or above, The Salisbury Post reported. Cooper has refused to hold in-person campaign rallies and has only held virtual events.

Reeves has said repeatedly during the coronavirus pandemic that he believes wearing masks is one of the single most important things Mississippi residents can do to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Wearing a mask — as irritating as it can be, and I promise you I hate it more than anyone watching today — is critical,” Reeves said on Aug. 4, when he issued his statewide mask mandate.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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