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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: 297651

Reported Deaths: 6808
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19831231
Hinds18971395
Harrison16904283
Rankin12853265
Jackson12756234
Lee9725163
Madison9525204
Jones8045148
Forrest7300138
Lauderdale6879228
Lowndes6062140
Lamar594282
Lafayette5768114
Washington5235130
Bolivar4633124
Oktibbeha443395
Panola433798
Pearl River4219132
Warren4145115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall406795
Monroe3998129
Union397074
Neshoba3857171
Lincoln3632104
Hancock353578
Leflore3404122
Sunflower321386
Tate304674
Pike303497
Scott296871
Alcorn292863
Yazoo292666
Itawamba290775
Coahoma283169
Tippah280265
Copiah280159
Simpson277981
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255841
Leake254872
Covington250480
Grenada249178
Adams236278
Newton233353
George232845
Winston222579
Jasper214645
Tishomingo213266
Attala210571
Chickasaw202054
Holmes183470
Clay179452
Stone173529
Tallahatchie171839
Clarke170773
Calhoun158728
Smith154433
Yalobusha146036
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123335
Lawrence121721
Carroll119725
Amite112535
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102931
Tunica99824
Claiborne99130
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91523
Quitman77514
Franklin76520
Choctaw70317
Jefferson62927
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 500092

Reported Deaths: 10148
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson720821403
Mobile36436741
Madison32722469
Tuscaloosa24465422
Montgomery22826523
Shelby22301219
Baldwin19942289
Lee15084161
Calhoun13968296
Morgan13810255
Etowah13427327
Marshall11460215
Houston10140264
Elmore9523190
Limestone9443139
St. Clair9061228
Cullman9012183
Lauderdale8631214
DeKalb8510175
Talladega7650165
Walker6606260
Jackson6554104
Autauga636492
Blount6256128
Colbert6012121
Coffee5270104
Dale4688107
Russell408934
Franklin400979
Covington4000107
Chilton3924104
Escambia379673
Tallapoosa3636143
Clarke344653
Chambers3434111
Dallas3427142
Pike293373
Marion289096
Lawrence286387
Winston258768
Bibb246458
Marengo245457
Geneva240670
Pickens226457
Barbour214351
Hale212969
Fayette202857
Butler201766
Henry183841
Cherokee178340
Monroe166839
Randolph165541
Washington157136
Macon147945
Crenshaw147355
Clay146254
Cleburne140341
Lamar133933
Lowndes133351
Wilcox123125
Bullock117736
Conecuh107124
Perry106427
Sumter101032
Coosa90324
Greene88932
Choctaw56123
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