Gov. Reeves says he should have worn a mask at funeral

Gov. Tate Reeves speaking during a coronavirus news conference

Reeves said emotions were “very, very high” at the service, and he was focused on supporting Blair's family and law enforcement officers.

Posted: Jun 18, 2020 10:05 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he should have worn a mask during a funeral a day earlier where hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered to honor a Simpson County deputy sheriff killed in the line of duty.

“I did have a mask. It was in my pocket. I should have put it on," Reeves said during a news conference.

He was responding to reporters' questions about why he didn't cover his mouth and nose while standing next to the family of James Blair during Blair's funeral in Mendenhall. Public health officials have said for months that masks and social distancing are important ways to try to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Blair, 77, was shot and killed Friday while taking a man to a mental health facility. Blair had worked in public safety more than 50 years.

Reeves said emotions were “very, very high” at the service, and he was focused on supporting Blair's family and law enforcement officers.

“If y'all want to shame me for the way in which I handled it — go for it. That’s part of your job,” Reeves told reporters. "But I will not apologize for attending this funeral for this slain law enforcement officer.”

Reeves said he will always attend services honoring officers who are killed in the line of duty.

“Some of us are in jobs where we have to take additional risks," Reeves said. “It's not perfect, it's not an ideal scenario, but it is what it is."

During briefings in recent weeks, Reeves has told people to avoid large gatherings, including funerals.

On Thursday, Reeves and the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, warned about community transmission of the virus through large social gatherings and encouraged people to wear masks. They encouraged people to follow Reeves's executive order that bans more than 20 people from gathering indoors and limits gatherings to 50 people if social distancing is possible.

Reeves said his executive orders have the “full effect and force of law” and "it is a combined effort by local and state law enforcement officers to enforce those laws.”

Dobbs said Thursday that officials have identified a cluster of “significant” coronavirus outbreaks among college-aged people in Oxford, home to the University of Mississippi. He said the major sources of the outbreaks have been summer fraternity rush parties where 81% of the attendees are between 18 and 24.

“We are seeing this younger generation of cases coming through the system, and inevitably, it's going to work its way up the system, and then the parents, because we're already seeing parents who got it from their kids around this Oxford situation," Dobbs said. “And then it's going to go to the grandparents, and we're going to have severe hospitalizations and illness and deaths."

Dobbs said he is “extremely concerned” that the virus caseload will not decrease significantly by the fall, when there could be another surge.

“The summer has been worse than we anticipated in large measure because the anticipated adherence with social distancing has been overwhelmingly disappointing,” he said.

Mississippi has a population of about 3 million. Dobbs said Thursday that the state has had at least 21,022 cases of the virus and at least 943 deaths from it as of Wednesday evening. That is an increase of 381 cases and five deaths from the previous day.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
Lafayette507393
Lamar496465
Washington4877124
Bolivar4068109
Oktibbeha401681
Panola378380
Pontotoc372155
Monroe3628105
Warren3619101
Union350563
Marshall349569
Neshoba3433152
Pearl River3380104
Leflore3079108
Lincoln300687
Sunflower289272
Hancock285360
Tate276762
Alcorn268854
Pike266580
Itawamba266261
Scott253448
Yazoo250156
Prentiss249552
Tippah245850
Copiah244549
Coahoma243654
Simpson240069
Leake234367
Grenada221171
Marion218473
Covington216972
Adams210170
Wayne206432
Winston205267
George202739
Attala195761
Newton195745
Tishomingo192461
Chickasaw186144
Jasper176038
Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 25°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 30°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 23°
Starkville
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 37°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather