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: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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