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: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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