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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: 294994

Reported Deaths: 6681
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19660230
Hinds18785386
Harrison16679278
Rankin12675264
Jackson12575226
Lee9683160
Madison9448199
Jones7945146
Forrest7204136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6021137
Lamar587680
Lafayette5730113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4608123
Oktibbeha440993
Panola430394
Pearl River4159130
Warren4126114
Pontotoc408769
Marshall403192
Monroe3988126
Union395174
Neshoba3800168
Lincoln3539102
Hancock346974
Leflore3374118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300095
Scott293670
Alcorn291761
Itawamba289675
Yazoo288762
Tippah278565
Copiah277757
Coahoma277568
Simpson274778
Prentiss269758
Wayne253741
Marion252578
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234277
George231745
Newton229452
Winston221675
Jasper213245
Tishomingo212165
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes181870
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122238
Perry121634
Lawrence120221
Carroll118125
Amite111333
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90123
Quitman77114
Franklin76019
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62426
Jefferson62327
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493252

Reported Deaths: 9929
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709861374
Mobile36108725
Madison32405455
Tuscaloosa24110410
Montgomery22565500
Shelby21929215
Baldwin19732283
Lee14961153
Morgan13659251
Calhoun13275286
Etowah13176319
Marshall11261209
Houston10086261
Elmore9376185
Limestone9359134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8822223
Lauderdale8603211
DeKalb8446175
Talladega7517163
Walker6518255
Jackson6492102
Autauga626491
Blount6097127
Colbert6001118
Coffee5245102
Dale4640107
Russell404730
Franklin399177
Covington3957106
Chilton3870100
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3585142
Clarke343650
Chambers3410110
Dallas3403141
Pike293372
Lawrence282984
Marion281895
Winston246767
Bibb245060
Geneva239670
Marengo235855
Pickens224654
Barbour211551
Hale209768
Fayette200256
Butler196166
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156535
Clay144354
Crenshaw144354
Macon142043
Cleburne137739
Lamar132833
Lowndes131051
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87632
Choctaw55023
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