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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: 308737

Reported Deaths: 7139
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20931250
Hinds19961410
Harrison17562303
Rankin13369277
Jackson13156243
Madison9950212
Lee9890170
Jones8310161
Forrest7542148
Lauderdale7221237
Lowndes6289144
Lamar613384
Lafayette6072117
Washington5291133
Bolivar4776129
Oktibbeha457197
Panola4458103
Pearl River4437141
Warren4299119
Marshall4286102
Pontotoc417572
Monroe4062132
Union404675
Neshoba4005176
Lincoln3886109
Hancock373385
Leflore3471124
Sunflower331589
Tate325384
Pike3215105
Scott311472
Yazoo305069
Alcorn299465
Itawamba297877
Copiah293965
Coahoma290479
Simpson289586
Tippah285168
Prentiss276659
Marion266279
Leake261773
Wayne261541
Grenada256484
Covington255280
Adams246982
Newton245761
George238547
Winston226081
Tishomingo222567
Jasper220048
Attala213673
Chickasaw205457
Holmes187172
Clay183254
Stone179733
Clarke177776
Tallahatchie176140
Calhoun165431
Yalobusha160136
Smith159334
Walthall131043
Greene129633
Lawrence126623
Noxubee126534
Montgomery125742
Perry125238
Carroll120926
Amite120741
Webster113832
Jefferson Davis105532
Tunica103225
Claiborne101330
Benton97525
Kemper95628
Humphreys94632
Franklin82923
Quitman78916
Choctaw73917
Wilkinson65128
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49817
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 521623

Reported Deaths: 10739
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754061493
Mobile39067799
Madison34040496
Tuscaloosa25367444
Montgomery24019567
Shelby23186239
Baldwin20701302
Lee15589165
Calhoun14342311
Morgan14158271
Etowah13685346
Marshall11995220
Houston10404278
Elmore10011200
Limestone9852147
Cullman9503189
St. Clair9463234
Lauderdale9265228
DeKalb8757181
Talladega8115171
Walker7139275
Jackson6756110
Autauga6750103
Blount6519134
Colbert6229130
Coffee5424113
Dale4772111
Russell430038
Franklin420782
Chilton4101109
Covington4061114
Tallapoosa3907146
Escambia390174
Dallas3525149
Chambers3514122
Clarke347060
Marion3072100
Pike306176
Lawrence295995
Winston273172
Bibb256059
Marengo248361
Geneva246075
Pickens233259
Barbour226455
Hale218575
Butler212967
Fayette209460
Henry188044
Cherokee182644
Randolph177241
Monroe172540
Washington165238
Macon155648
Clay150155
Crenshaw149457
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124427
Bullock121640
Conecuh109428
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
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