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Virus: Some critical of Reeves handling of state's response

Gov. Tate Reeves speaking at a news conference in Jackson March 24.

Not everyone is happy with how Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is managing the state's response to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Posted: Mar 28, 2020 11:01 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Not everyone is happy with how Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is managing the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee Smithson, the former director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said he can't believe what Reeves has and has not done while following the lead of the Trump administration in the health crisis, he told The Sun Herald.

“I’m so frustrated by the whole thing,” said Smithson, who also served as director of military support for the Mississippi National Guard. “The only thing I can do is minimize my outings and take care of my family. I think it’s going to get a whole lot worse.”

Added Smithson, “We’re looking at economics over public health.”

Smithson is among thousands who have asked Reeves to issue stay-at-home orders for all but essential businesses. Instead, Reeves has allowed businesses such as restaurants and retail stores to continue operating as the state's numbers continue to rise.

As of Saturday, the state's health department said there were more than 660 confirmed infections in Mississippi and 13 deaths, up from at least 579 cases and eight deaths reported a day earlier. Although most people recover and many suffer only mild symptoms, COVID-19 can cause serious illness including respiratory problems for some, including the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. The disease is highly contagious.

“Since the onset of the outbreak, the Governor immediately began developing and implementing Mississippi’s preparedness and response planning, including declaring a state of emergency, extending school closures by four weeks, and ensuring paid leave for local level employees,” his office said Friday in an email.

But Smithson said that's not enough.

“In my opinion, not imposing a shelter in place and clarifying what are truly essential facilities, you’re going to force health care providers to decide who lives and who dies because there simply won’t be enough bed space,” Smithson said.

The governor’s office said Reeves has taken remarkable steps to keep Mississippi residents safe.

Reeves' communications director, Renae Eze, said in an email that after consulting with state and federal health officials, they have not yet received any recommendations to establish a shelter-in-place order.

“Should the situation in our state change, the Governor is ready to issue a shelter in place — whether it be for a city, a region, or the entire state,"she said. “Throughout the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, the Governor has asked businesses to let all nonessential employees go home and asked Mississippians to stay home as much as possible.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15752

Reported Deaths: 739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18075

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
Tupelo
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