Mississippi governor defends hosting parties amid virus

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves during COVID-19 briefing on Oct. 19, 2020.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is defending his decision to hold Christmas parties at the Governor’s Mansion.

Posted: Dec 10, 2020 12:16 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday defended his decision to hold Christmas parties at the Governor's Mansion, despite repeatedly warning residents to avoid social gatherings as coronavirus cases surge.

The Republican governor said he invited family, friends and state officials to the multiple parties, but he expects many will choose not to attend.

The front part of the Governor’s Mansion is a museum that is open by appointment only, and the Reeves family lives in a private portion in the back. Reeves compared the parties to tours that have been happening during the pandemic. No more than 10 people are allowed on each tour of the historic home, and masks are required.

“What I think we are doing by offering the public the opportunity to, for instance, tour the Governor’s Mansion, is to offer a sense of normalcy,” Reeves said during a news conference.

Reeves, who became governor in January, said he canceled many social events for the year, including a 16th birthday party for his oldest daughter and an open house traditionally held the first Friday of December.

In a story first reported by Mississippi Today, elected officials said they were invited to a governor’s Christmas party happening Wednesday. The governor also invited lawmakers to separate parties next week.

Reeves has often told people not to host gatherings as the virus spreads. He issued a new executive order Wednesday that restricts social gatherings statewide to 10 people indoors and 50 outdoors when social distancing is not possible and has issued a mask mandate for all Mississippi schools and in 61 out of 82 counties in the state with the highest number of new coronavirus cases.

The new executive order additionally limits schools' indoor sporting events to four spectators per student participant and a maximum of 250 spectators.

Mississippi reported more than 2,700 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Wednesday, the most ever in a single day. Before that, the record was 2,480, reported Dec. 4. Mississippi has also exceeded past records for the number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus in recent days.

Reeves said he did not know how many people were invited to the Governor's Mansion parties, and he did not specify how many he plans to host.

At least 40 lawmakers and others in the state Capitol tested positive for the coronavirus during the summer, including the Republican presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. Some lawmakers were hospitalized. In the weeks before to the outbreak, some legislators worked shoulder to shoulder or rode on crowded elevators, and some went without masks.

After either receiving an invitation to the governor's party or hearing about it, some lawmakers said they did not plan to attend because they were taking precautions with the virus.

Democrat Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he didn't think he received an invitation, but he thinks the parties are “inappropriate.”

“It’s a time for all of us to be diligent and try to make sure that we’re setting good examples until we get this pandemic under control," Johnson said. "I don’t think it’s fair to represent to the public that it’s OK to go about business as usual.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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