Virus: Some critical of Reeves handling of state's response

Gov. Tate Reeves speaking at a news conference in Jackson March 24.

Not everyone is happy with how Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is managing the state's response to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Posted: Mar 28, 2020 11:01 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Not everyone is happy with how Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is managing the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee Smithson, the former director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said he can't believe what Reeves has and has not done while following the lead of the Trump administration in the health crisis, he told The Sun Herald.

“I’m so frustrated by the whole thing,” said Smithson, who also served as director of military support for the Mississippi National Guard. “The only thing I can do is minimize my outings and take care of my family. I think it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

Added Smithson, “We’re looking at economics over public health.”

Smithson is among thousands who have asked Reeves to issue stay-at-home orders for all but essential businesses. Instead, Reeves has allowed businesses such as restaurants and retail stores to continue operating as the state's numbers continue to rise.

As of Saturday, the state's health department said there were more than 660 confirmed infections in Mississippi and 13 deaths, up from at least 579 cases and eight deaths reported a day earlier. Although most people recover and many suffer only mild symptoms, COVID-19 can cause serious illness including respiratory problems for some, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. The disease is highly contagious.

“Since the onset of the outbreak, the Governor immediately began developing and implementing Mississippi’s preparedness and response planning, including declaring a state of emergency, extending school closures by four weeks, and ensuring paid leave for local level employees,” his office said Friday in an email.

But Smithson said that's not enough.

“In my opinion, not imposing a shelter in place and clarifying what are truly essential facilities, you’re going to force health care providers to decide who lives and who dies because there simply won’t be enough bed space,” Smithson said.

The governor’s office said Reeves has taken remarkable steps to keep Mississippi residents safe.

Reeves' communications director, Renae Eze, said in an email that after consulting with state and federal health officials, they have not yet received any recommendations to establish a shelter-in-place order.

“Should the situation in our state change, the Governor is ready to issue a shelter in place — whether it be for a city, a region, or the entire state,"she said. “Throughout the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, the Governor has asked businesses to let all nonessential employees go home and asked Mississippians to stay home as much as possible.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 158701

Reported Deaths: 2680
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23292377
Mobile16916315
Tuscaloosa10345140
Montgomery10250197
Madison935096
Shelby739063
Baldwin665869
Lee654665
Calhoun459961
Marshall439550
Etowah428551
Houston417034
Morgan416435
DeKalb342629
Elmore320853
St. Clair295542
Limestone287230
Walker279492
Talladega266435
Cullman248024
Lauderdale229442
Jackson215915
Autauga205931
Franklin205531
Colbert202132
Russell19493
Blount193225
Chilton188432
Dallas186627
Coffee177111
Dale176351
Covington174729
Escambia172730
Clarke135217
Chambers135044
Pike134113
Tallapoosa132987
Marion108129
Barbour10339
Marengo101922
Butler101140
Winston92913
Geneva9067
Lawrence85832
Pickens85218
Bibb84014
Randolph82716
Hale76830
Washington74912
Clay74412
Cherokee73814
Henry7176
Lowndes71328
Bullock64917
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60830
Perry5926
Fayette57713
Cleburne5698
Wilcox56812
Conecuh56113
Macon53620
Lamar4965
Sumter47221
Choctaw39212
Greene34216
Coosa2043
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