JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi Senate leader and a protest organizer are speaking out against Republican Gov. Tate Reeves's tweet Sunday that the “liberal media” is ignoring new coronavirus cases that could have been caused by protests and blaming the state's recent surge on holiday barbeque parties.
You're “being messy, loud, and wrong. per usual. ... if you want to have dialogue, use it,” tweeted Maisie Brown, an 18-year-old from Jackson who helped organize a protest that drew thousands to the capital in June after the killing of George Floyd. “this isn’t the time to be divisive & demonize people who got out to change. we were masked! up! where’s yours?”
Mississippi Senate Minority Leader Derrick T. Simmons of Greenville said he doesn't think the governor or anyone else can “for certain blame the increased number of COVID-19 cases on protests around the nation or in Mississippi.” New cases can also be caused by people returning to work, the reopening of the economy and increased testing, Simmons wrote in a statement.
“I trust media professionals with their assessments since they are trained to be factual and won’t dare to condemn them for doing the tough job and informing the American people with facts," Simmons said.
Reeves's tweet came a few days after a press conference where State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said there was no evidence of any outbreaks in Mississipi caused by protests. No states where there have been major protests have reported an uptick in cases caused by protests.
“Liberal media is trying to claim the increase of Coronavirus was just caused by family BBQ’s on Memorial Day,” Reeves tweeted on Sunday. "They completely ignore the fact that our uptick (and other states) began within days of massive protests all over—which they celebrated."
Mississippi, mirroring other Southern states, has seen in recent weeks its highest number of daily confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. The state health department reported 1,092 new cases of the virus on June 25, and 914 new cases reported July 3.
Dobbs said cases are increasing most rapidly among young people in their 20s. He cited outbreaks caused by fraternity parties in Oxford, near the University of Mississippi.
Reeves's executive orders allow as many as 20 people to gather indoors without social distancing and 50 people indoors together with social distancing. Outdoor events are limited to 50 people without social distancing or 100 with it.
However, Dobbs has pleaded with people to avoid large social gatherings as a whole.
“Please be safe July 4 weekend! Recommend celebrating with household members ONLY!” State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs tweeted on July 2, showing a chart of Mississippi’s spiking coronavirus caseload. “Please avoid parties, gatherings. Things are getting worse very quickly."