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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: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
Cloudy
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Columbus
Mostly Cloudy
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Oxford
Cloudy
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Starkville
Partly Cloudy
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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